Markets

Stock buybacks are on track to be the lowest ever this quarter

Key Points
  • Many companies have suspended buybacks and dividends to preserve their cash flow.
  • As a result, buybacks from the bank's clients are on pace to fall roughly 90% in the second quarter compared with prior quarters.
  • "Buybacks remained extremely anemic, with QTD buybacks tracking just over $1bn — on pace for a record-low ~$2bn quarter in our data history," Bank of America said in a note. 
The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in the financial district of lower Manhattan during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, April 26, 2020.
Jeena Moon | Reuters

Stock buybacks are on track for the lowest total on record this quarter, according to Bank of America.

The sharp economic slowdown caused by the pandemic has left many companies scrambling for cash as their revenues dried up. Many companies have suspended buybacks and dividends to preserve their cash flow.

As a result, buybacks from the bank's clients — which have generally tracked total S&P 500 buybacks over the past decade — are on pace to fall roughly 90% in the second quarter compared with prior quarters.

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"Buybacks remained extremely anemic, with QTD buybacks tracking just over $1bn — on pace for a record-low ~$2bn quarter in our data history," the note said. 

There has been growing political pressure against buybacks, even before the pandemic began, that may have made some companies wary of the practice at a time of historic unemployment. 

Many companies have been announcing the suspension of buybacks during their quarterly earnings reports. The major U.S. banks announced that they would not buy back their own stock during the second quarter on March 15

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