These box office numbers do not include the cost of production or marketing costs. They also don't count the billions in merchandising that Disney has made over the last...Entertainmentread more
Instagram began tests that hide "like" counts on posts. That means influencers who market products on Instagram will have to rely on different metrics to show success.Technologyread more
Peter Neupert worked for Microsoft and Amazon-backed Drugstore.com, where he got to know Jeff Bezos. He now advises start-ups.Technologyread more
Facebook Vice President David Marcus is the face of the company's Libra digital currency, but the original driving force was a 26-year-old female corporate-development...Technologyread more
Regional stability, oil prices and potential for war will all depend on what Iran does with its nuclear program in the event of the deal's termination.World Politicsread more
The firing of the tear gas was the latest confrontation between police and protesters who have taken to the streets for over a month to fight a proposed extradition bill and...China Politicsread more
Amazon's new policy for account suspensions doesn't go far enough to protect sellers from potentially unfair and wrongful suspensions, merchants say.Technologyread more
There is no end in sight to the Boeing 737 Max grounding after two fatal crashes, prompting airlines to rethink their growth plans.Airlinesread more
After a year of flooding, Midwest farmers face a stifling heat wave that's spreading across the U.S.Weather & Natural Disastersread more
On Saturday, Disney's Marvel Studios announced its upcoming slate of superhero films during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con.Entertainmentread more
"It troubles me that the most important political office in the world is becoming the face of racism and exclusion," Kaeser said in a Twitter post.Politicsread more
The black eye stock buybacks have received in the halls of Congress lately has not stopped companies from stepping up their announced share repurchases in the first quarter.
In fact, by one count buybacks are on their way to another record this year, potentially topping the just over $1 trillion seen in 2018.
The trend comes amid a clamor in Washington by lawmakers looking to make it harder for companies to buy their own stock and instead direct the money to investments in workers and equipment. Both Democrats and Republicans have been bashing buybacks, saying corporate America is getting an unfair advantage in the tax code that rewards selfish behavior.
New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer was on the offensive again this week, posting a new essay on Medium that said companies should find a better use for their cash. Schumer and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders recently outlined a proposal that would force companies engaging in buybacks to provide a living wage and health benefits to all workers. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has promised his own proposal to stem the trend.
"To me, this poor income distribution and the ensuing and uncharacteristic lack of hope it creates in the American working class is — along with climate change — the greatest problem America faces," Schumer wrote. "We need solutions, not glib answers."
The buyback trend started during first-quarter earnings season has been striking.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates repurchases are up 91 percent year over year, with staples and materials leading followed by tech and financials. In fact, the past week saw nearly $2.8 billion, the fourth-highest level since BofAML began tracking the data point in 2009.
"The current pace of buybacks would suggest a record year in [staples and materials] plus Financials and Utilities; Industrials and Discretionary buybacks, while below post -2009 records, are also set to eclipse last year's levels," Jill Carey Hall, U.S. equity strategist at BofAML, said in a note.
That move comes off a big fourth quarter in 2018.
S&P 500 companies that have reported so far are indicating just a 1 percent decline from the record third-quarter buyback levels, with the amount 64.8 percent ahead of the fourth quarter in 2017, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior industry analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
However, Silverblatt's data also run counter to the notion that companies are just piling into buybacks and dividends and not investing in their companies.
Capital expenditures are running 13.9 percent higher than the previous quarter and 15.5 percent ahead of the same period a year ago. In fact, Silverblatt said the trend, through the first 63.3 percent of companies reporting, could approach the record level of capex in Q4 of 2016.
Wall Street has come to depend on buybacks along with organic growth for the nearly 10-year-old bull market. While investors have taken about $232 billion out of mutual and exchange-traded equity funds over the past three years, companies have pumped in $1.8 trillion through repurchases, according to Nick Colas, co-founder of Data Trek Research.
"Any real regulation on buybacks, either through labor conditions or tax code, is a negative for valuations and stock prices," Colas said in a recent note to clients.
Despite their current status as low-hanging political fruit, Colas said buybacks can be "better than the alternatives," such as big mergers that often don't work out well for workers, or companies moving operations overseas to escape the labor regulations proposed in a Schumer-Sanders type bill.
"Stock buybacks are deeply cyclical in nature, so the fact that their size has finally drawn DC's attention is a worrying sign of a corporate profit top," Colas wrote. "Legislation on financial issues is almost always reactive, not proactive."