Q3 2023 Stock Buyback Data: Trend Report

Analysis from VerityData examining Q3 2023 corporate share buyback trends at U.S. companies.

Ali Ragih, CFA, Senior Research Analyst
January 5, 2024

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. Data compiled December 14, 2023.

Q3 2023 Stock Buyback Data: Macro Trends

Buyback Execution Increases in Q3’23

Buyback volume for U.S. companies in Q3’23 totaled $203.6B, representing a 3.4% sequential increase from the prior quarter but a -17.5% YoY drop. The increase in volume in Q3’23 ends a five-quarter streak of continuously declining volume since all-time high volume was reached in Q1’22. Higher volume in Q3’23 was driven by those in the Technology and Consumer Discretionary sectors, which have been a source of high buyback volume in recent years. This has been offset by large banks pulling back on buybacks amid stricter capital requirements. An uptick in accelerated share repurchase (“ASR”) volume in Q4’23, the only type of buyback that’s regularly disclosed in real-time, hints at a continued rise in buybacks in the current quarter.

Buyback Participation in Q3’23 Aligned With Historic Average

A total of 1,049 companies reported repurchases for Q3’23 so far, which compares to an average of 1,030 companies per quarter over the last 10 years. The breadth of buybacks has generally been decreasing over the last six quarters and continued to dip -8.8% in Q3’23 compared to Q2’23. The latest drop in breadth contrasts with a rise in the dollar volume. The reduction in companies buying back stock was seen in small and large companies, and most sectors. The combination of a higher aggregate buyback volume and a reduction in companies buying back stock indicates repurchases were top-heavy in Q3’23 and more concentrated. As of this report, not all companies have submitted Q3’23 data, particularly those with offset fiscal calendars. Therefore, the final count of companies participating in buybacks for Q3’23 may slightly increase but is not expected to exceed Q2’23 numbers.

New & Increased Buyback Plans Up QoQ to 228

A total of 129 companies initiated new buyback plans in Q3’23 and another 99 increased existing plans. The combined figure of 228 is well below the Q2’23 count of 310 and solidly below the 10-year average.

A historic chart showing quarterly buyback value of Russell 3000 companies over the last 10 years

Source: VerityData

Q3 2023 Stock Buyback Trends By Index & Sector

Q3 ‘22Q4 ‘22Q1 ‘23Q2 ‘23Q3 ‘23QoQ ChangeYoY Change
All U.S. Companies$246.6$233.8$229.1$196.9$203.63.4%-17.5%
S&P 500$204.5$196.2$199.9$163.5$168.83.2%-17.4%
Russell 2000$11.6$10.6$11.5$10.5$11.37.5%-2.6%
Consumer Discretionary$36.3$32.1$30.5$30.3$34.413.8%-5.1%
Industrial Goods$24.3$26.8$16.5$17.4$16.2-7.1%-33.3%
Consumer Staples
Real Estate$2.1$1.4$0.7$0.7$1.4111.0%-34.3%

Source: VerityData

Top 5 Corporate Stock Repurchasers for Q3 2023

The largest share buybacks in Q3’23 were Apple (AAPL), Alphabet (GOOGL), Exxon Mobile (XOM), Visa (V) and Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMY).

  1. Apple (AAPL) topped all companies marketwide, as usual, with $20.5B in buybacks in Q3’23, an increase from the $18.0B it spent in the prior quarter. The amount is in-line with its pace over the past two years.
  2. Alphabet (GOOGL) repurchased $15.8B in Q3’23, which is a new high, narrowly edging out the $15.4B it spent in Q3’22 and Q4’22.
  3. Exxon Mobile (XOM) again bought back $4.4B in Q3’23, roughly matching the average in the prior four quarters.
  4. Visa (V) accelerated its buyback pace to $4.1B, which is the highest for the company since Q4’21 and compares to $3.0B in buybacks in Q2’23.
  5. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) used an ASR to drive its highest quarter for buybacks in six quarters by spending $4.0B in Q3’23. BMY’s buyback cadence has varied significantly on a quarterly basis.

[Watch] How to Get Compelling Investment Ideas From Stock Buyback Data

About the Stock Buyback Data

VerityData 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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Ali Ragih, CFA, Senior Research Analyst

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Ali Ragih, CFA, is a Senior Research Analyst at Verity. He’s passionate about diving into investment data, looking for outliers, and interpreting the signals that fuel better investment decisions. He’s been delivering differentiated research and analysis to asset managers for 10+ years.

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