I have often contended that share buy-backs are not a great thing. I suggest that companies should focus on growing their top line revenue number with appropriate attention to the bottom line number. Focusing on number of shares as a way to control EPS is very expensive.
This article from the WSJ, tends to agree with my premise.
Citigroup analysts found 38 of the 50 retail and apparel companies they cover repurchased shares in fiscal 2015. The bank set out to determine how bullish that is for future performance, looking at buybacks across the group since 2011. It focused on instances of companies repurchasing 5% or more of their outstanding shares within a year.
Out of 71 such instances, on average, the stocks underperformed the S&P Retail Index by more than 10 percentage points in the year following the repurchase, Citigroup found. The companies’ stocks underperformed the index in the year following the repurchases in 44 of 71 instances, outperforming only 27 times.
That suggests companies may be buying back stock to cushion earnings per share the following year. Instead of applauding buybacks, investors might be better off questioning their motives.