Q1 2022 Stock Buybacks: Trend Report

Analysis from VerityData examining Q1 2022 corporate share buyback trends at U.S. companies.

Ali Ragih, CFA, Senior Research Analyst
June 9, 2022

In this article, featuring highlights of a Buyback Trends report from VerityData | InsiderScore, we examine quarterly buyback data and identify market, index, and sector trends related to corporate stock repurchases. Note: This article is an excerpt of an exclusive report for VerityData | InsiderScore customers.

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Q1 2022 Stock Buybacks: Macro Trends

New Record Buyback Volume in Q1 2022

Buyback volume for U.S. companies in Q1’22 was $310.4B, a 3.1% sequential increase and a 63.6% year-over-year jump. After depressed buyback volume in 2020, repurchases recovered and set a then all-time high in Q3’21. Buybacks continued to surge in Q4’21 and Q1’22, breaking new records in each quarter.

S&P Buybacks Rose 4%

The S&P 500 aggregate buyback value increased 4.4% from the prior quarter and soared 56.3% year-over-year to a new record high. The $263.5B in S&P 500 repurchases accounted for 84.5% of all buybacks, lower than the average of 89%.  Volume will likely rise slightly higher as the remaining companies who have offset fiscal calendars report quarterly activity that lines up with Q1’22.

Q1 2022 S&P 500 data

Russell 2000 Buybacks Down 2%

Volume for the Russell 2000 has so far failed to set a new record. 36 Russell 2000 companies repurchased at least $100M which is more than three times the average of ~10 that routinely emerged to do so before 2021. Q4’21 saw 41 Russell 2000 companies buyback at least $100M while nine did so in Q1’21. As with S&P, volume will likely rise slightly higher as the remaining companies who have offset fiscal calendars report quarterly activity that lines up with Q1’22.

Russell 2000 buybacks

Number of Companies That Repurchased Stock Up 5% QoQ

A total of 1,228 companies repurchased shares in Q1’22, a 5.3% quarter-over-quarter increase. The breadth of buybacks has been continuously increasing for several quarters in row and is now elevated, reaching the highest level since Q1’20, when nearly 1,400 companies bought back stock. The percentage of companies with open buyback authorizations that repurchased shares was 54% in Q1’22, extending the multi-quarter rise which is now above the 2019 average of 44% for the first time post-COVID.

Combined Plan Initiations & Increases Decline Sequentially

A total of 265 companies initiated new buyback plans in Q1’22 and another 136 increased existing plans. The combined figure of 401 is a -11.8% change from the 455 in Q4’21. The latest combined amount for Q4’21 is above the norm of ~300 combined initiations and increases per quarter in recent years.

Q1 2022 Stock Buyback Trends By Index & Sector

Index/Sector Q1’21 Q2’21 Q3’21 Q4’21 Q1’22 QoQ Change YoY Change
All U.S. Companies $189.7 $223.6 $262.7 $300.9 $310.4 3.1% 63.6%
S&P 500 $168.5 $193.9 $224.2 $252.4 $263.5 4.4% 56.3%
Russell 2000 $5.0 $9.8 $14.2 $17.0 $16.7 -1.5% 234.1%
Technology $75.1 $85.3 $96.0 $103.0 $97.4 -5.4% 29.7%
Financial $39.1 $53.1 $71.3 $62.9 $61.3 -2.7% 56.7%
Consumer Discretionary $24.8 $29.6 $32.4 $50.9 $47.5 -6.8% 91.1%
Healthcare $18.3 $18.4 $16.2 $21.3 $36.0 69.3% 96.9%
Industrial Goods $14.4 $16.8 $19.9 $21.8 $27.8 27.8% 93.0%
Consumer Staples $12.2 $10.4 $11.2 $15.3 $14.6 -4.5% 19.9%
Energy $0.8 $3.2 $4.9 $10.0 $11.6 15.7% 1374.3%
Materials $3.6 $5.5 $7.3 $11.4 $9.5 -17.0% 160.2%
Real Estate $1.0 $1.0 $1.9 $2.2 $2.3 5.6% 126.3%
Utilities $0.2 $0.0 $0.3 $1.6 $1.5 -1.8% 750.7%
Telecommunications $0.2 $0.1 $1.1 $0.6 $0.9 58.8% 296.9%


Leading Repurchasers for Q1 2022

The leading repurchases in Q1’22 were Apple (AAPL), Alphabet (GOOGL), Meta Platforms (FB), Microsoft (MSFT) and S&P Global (SPGI). S&P 500 companies that executed the largest buybacks as a percent of outstanding were Bath & Body Works (BBWI), Stanley Black & Decker (SWK), Willis Towers Watson (WTW), Twitter (TWTR) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC).

  • Apple (AAPL) topped all companies market-wide, as usual, with $22.9B in buybacks in Q1’22. The amount is up from the prior quarter’s $20.4B and compares to a record of $24.0B. At 0.8% of the outstanding, repurchases at AAPL haven’t kept up with the market-cap.
  • Alphabet (GOOGL) repurchased $13.3B, slightly less than the $13.5B it spent in Q4’21. While GOOGL has increased its buyback over the past year, the volume as a percent of its market-cap hasn’t changed much.
  • Meta Platforms (FB) repurchased $9.4B in Q1’22, significantly less than the $19.2B it spent in Q4’21. The reduction in spend came with shares falling to their lowest level in two years.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) had the fourth highest buyback market-wide at $7.8B. The amount was the largest for MSFT ever. Even still, the buyback represented just 0.3% of the outstanding shares. Despite the high dollar value, MSFT repurchases have become immaterial.
  • S&P Global (SPGI) retired $7.0B in shares during Q1’22 after refraining from buybacks for two years. SGPI sat on the sidelines while it gained merger clearance. The dollar value in Q1’22 and equivalent percent outstanding of 5.5% are both the largest for SGPI.

About the Data

InsiderScore tracks all open buyback plans that are publicly disclosed by U.S.-listed companies. Quarterly buyback updates are typically included in 10-Qs and 10-Ks, and we capture buying that is part of the publicly announced plan.

Data includes accelerated share repurchases (“ASRs”) and tender offers. Buybacks for the purpose of M&A (exchange offers and tender offers specifically to acquire a company) are excluded. For companies that do not report on a normal calendar basis, we’ve done our best to estimate the most appropriate corresponding calendar period.

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