Despite the increased Congressional scrutiny, companies still increased share repurchases over the first quarter, potentially bolstering a smart beta ETF strategy that specifically targets companies with a history of stock buybacks.
Some project that buybacks are on their way to another record this year, potentially outdoing the over $1 trillion seen in 2018, CNBC reports.
Company buybacks are under the microscope on Capitol Hill as both Republicans and Democrats censured buyback practices, arguing that corporate America is receiving an unfair advantage in the tax code that rewards the behavior instead of reinvesting back into workers and equipment.
“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,” New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer said. “We need solutions, not glib answers.”
Nevertheless, corporate American continued on their share repurchases plans. According to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, repurchases are up 91% year-over-year, with staples and materials leading the charge followed by tech and financials. Over the past week, there was nearly $2.8 billion in deals, 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.