Tax reform appears just around the corner, potentially breathing new life into share buybacks and the companies that do them.
Wall Street generally remains confident that a plan that passes Congress will include a cut in the tax rate for repatriation of profits — overseas earnings brought back to the U.S. — despite no mention of a specific rate in the Wednesday announcement of the Trump administration's plan. The handout from the administration just read, "one-time tax on trillions of dollars held overseas."
"When it comes, I do believe it will impact buybacks more than dividends," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Buybacks are a win-win short-term situation for companies. The minute you do it, you support your stock."
Buying back shares reduces the share count for a stock, increasing the earnings per share. Shareholders theoretically benefit, although critics say companies' cash would be better used in longer-term investments for the good of the business such as capital expenditures.
"I think there is a good chance the 10 percent tax repatriation rate will be implemented," Thomas Digenan, head of U.S. intrinsic value equity at UBS Asset Management, said in an email. "To the extent the Republicans are willing to use the budget reconciliation process [that expedites policy consideration], they will only need a simple majority to pass a tax bill."