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What is a 'Share Repurchase'

A share repurchase is a program by which a company buys back its own shares from the marketplace, usually because management thinks the shares are undervalued, and thereby reducing the number of outstanding shares. The company buys shares directly from the market or offers its shareholders the option of tendering their shares directly to the company at a fixed price.

BREAKING DOWN 'Share Repurchase'

Because a share repurchase reduces the number of shares outstanding, it increases earnings per share and elevates the market value of the remaining shares. After repurchase, the shares are canceled or held as treasury shares, so they are no longer held publicly and are not outstanding.

Reasons for a Share Repurchase

A share repurchase reduces the total assets of the business so that its return on assets, return on equity and other metrics improve when compared to not repurchasing shares. Reducing the number of shares means earnings per share (EPS), revenue and cash flow grow more quickly. If the business pays out the same amount of total money to shareholders annually in dividends, and the total number of shares decreases, each shareholder receives a larger annual dividend. If the corporation grows its earnings and its total dividend payout, decreasing the total number of shares further increases the dividend growth. Shareholders expect a corporation paying regular dividends will continue doing so.

Share repurchases fill the gap between excess capital and dividends so that the business returns more to shareholders without locking into a pattern. For example, assume the corporation wants to return 75% of its earnings to shareholders and keep its dividend payout ratio at 50%. The company returns the other 25% in the form of share repurchases to complement the dividend.

Benefits of a Share Repurchase

A share repurchase shows the corporation believes its shares are undervalued and is an efficient method of putting money back in shareholders’ pockets. The share repurchase reduces the number of existing shares, making each worth a greater percentage of the corporation. The stock’s earnings per share (EPS) increases while the price-earnings ratio (P/E) decreases or the stock price increases. A share repurchase demonstrates to investors that the business has sufficient cash set aside for emergencies and a low probability of economic troubles.

Drawbacks of a Share Repurchase

A share repurchase can give investors the impression that the corporation does not have other profitable opportunities for growth, which is an issue for growth investors looking for revenue and profit increases. A corporation is not obligated to repurchase shares due to changes in the marketplace or economy. Repurchasing shares puts a business in a precarious situation if the economy takes a downturn or the corporation faces financial issues it cannot cover.

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