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S&P 500 Q1 2024 Buybacks Increase 8.1% from Q4 2023; 12-month Expenditure Declines 4.8% from Previous Year, Earnings Per Share Impact Reverses Showing First Gain in Five Quarters; Buybacks Tax Results in a 0.47% Reduction in Q1 Operating Earnings and 0.41% Reduction in 12-month Earnings

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The S&P 500 Q1 2024 buybacks totaled $236.8 billion, up 8.1% from Q4 2023 and 9.9% from Q1 2023. However, the 12-month expenditure to March 2024 was $816.5 billion, a 4.8% decrease from the previous year. Consumer Staples increased spending by 32.7%, while Consumer Discretionary decreased by 44.1%. Information Technology saw a minor uptick of 1.8%, and Health Care surged by 93.5%. The 1% buyback tax reduced Q1 2024 operating earnings by 0.47% and GAAP earnings by 0.54%. EPS impact showed a positive change for the first time in five quarters. Total shareholder returns for Q1 2024 were $388.4 billion, a 4.1% increase from Q4 2023. Despite the 1% tax, buybacks were not significantly impacted.

Positive
  • Q1 2024 buybacks increased by 8.1% from Q4 2023.
  • Q1 2024 buybacks rose 9.9% from Q1 2023.
  • Total shareholder returns for Q1 2024 were $388.4 billion, up 4.1% from Q4 2023.
  • Consumer Staples increased buyback spending by 32.7%.
  • Health Care buybacks surged by 93.5% in Q1 2024.
  • EPS impact showed the first gain in five quarters.
  • Top 20 companies accounted for 50.9% of Q1 2024 buybacks, indicating strong buyback activity among leading firms.
Negative
  • 12-month buyback expenditure decreased by 4.8% to $816.5 billion.
  • Consumer Discretionary sector reduced buyback spending by 44.1%.
  • The 1% buyback tax reduced Q1 2024 operating earnings by 0.47% and GAAP earnings by 0.54%.
  • Q1 2024 dividends decreased by 1.6% to $151.6 billion from Q4 2023.
  • The total shareholder returns for the 12 months ending March 2024 decreased by 1.5%.

The recent increase in stock buybacks for Q1 2024 indicates a return to confidence among companies in the S&P 500. Buybacks surged by 8.1% from Q4 2023 and 9.9% from Q1 2023. This trend underscores how companies are leveraging excess cash to repurchase shares, which can improve earnings per share (EPS) by reducing the number of outstanding shares. Although the buybacks tax reduced operating earnings by 0.47%, it has not significantly deterred companies from continuing their repurchase programs.

Consumer Staples saw a significant increase of 32.7% in buybacks, while Health Care surged by an impressive 93.5%. This sector-specific activity suggests confidence in these industries' future prospects. Conversely, Consumer Discretionary reduced buybacks by 44.1%, indicating potential caution or a reallocation of capital priorities.

From a retail investor standpoint, this data implies companies are optimistic about their future cash flows and profitability, using buybacks to support share prices. However, the long-term sustainability of such buybacks could be questioned if economic conditions or cash flows deteriorate. Notably, market concentration remains high, with the top 20 companies accounting for 50.9% of total buybacks, indicating that larger firms continue to dominate buyback activity.

The sectoral breakdown reveals fascinating dynamics. Information Technology continues to lead in buybacks, representing 24.2% of all buybacks in Q1 2024. This minor increase from Q4 2023's 1.8% hints at a modest but consistent strategy among tech firms to bolster their stock prices amidst evolving market conditions. Meanwhile, the Healthcare sector's 93.5% increase in buybacks is notable, driven potentially by robust cash flows and a strategic focus on maintaining investor confidence.

The decline in the Consumer Discretionary sector’s buybacks by 44.1% signals a significant shift in company priorities or caution due to market conditions. It's essential for investors to monitor these trends as they reflect broader economic sentiments and potential shifts in consumer behavior.

While the overall shareholder returns from buybacks and dividends increased by 4.1% from Q4 2023, the 1% buyback tax's incremental impact on earnings is a new element that companies and investors need to consider. This tax, while not drastically affecting overall buybacks, could influence future strategies, especially if the rate increases as suggested.

  • S&P 500 Q1 2024 buybacks were $236.8 billion, up 8.1% from Q4 2023's $219.1 billion and up 9.9% from Q1 2023's $215.5 billion
  • The 12-month March 2024 expenditure of $816.5 billion was down 4.8% from the prior 12-month expenditure of $857.2 billion
  • Consumer Staples increased spending by 32.7%, as Consumer Discretionary reduced spending by 44.1%; Information Technology ticked up 1.8% and Health Care jumped 93.5%
  • The net buyback 1% tax reduced Q1 2024 operating earnings by 0.47% and As Reported GAAP by 0.54%

NEW YORK, June 17, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) today announced the preliminary S&P 500® stock buybacks or share repurchases data for Q1 2024.

Historical data on S&P 500 buybacks is available at www.spdji.com/indices/equity/sp-500.

Key Takeaways:

  • Q1 2024 share repurchases were $236.8 billion, up 8.1% from Q4 2023's $219.1 billion expenditure, and up 9.9% from Q1 2023's $215.5 billion.
  • For the 12-months ending March 2024, buybacks were $816.5 billion, down from $867.2 billion for the prior 12-month March 2023 period; the 12-month peak was in June 2022 with $1.005 trillion.
  • 352 companies reported buybacks of at least $5 million for the quarter, up from 313 in Q4 2023 and down from 358 in Q1 2023; 380 companies did some buybacks for the quarter, up from 373 in Q4 2023 and down from 390 in Q1 2023; 419 companies did some buybacks in the last 12-month period, down from 432 in the prior 12-month period.
  • Buybacks concentration declined but remained top heavy, with the top 20 S&P 500 companies accounting for 50.9% of Q1 2024 buybacks, down from Q4 2023's 54.1%, but above the historical average of 47.5%, and above the pre-COVID historical average of 44.5%.
  • 13.3% of companies reduced share counts used for earnings per share (EPS) by at least 4% year-over-year, up from Q4 2023's 12.6% and down from Q1 2023's 18.5%, it was the first EPS impact increase since Q3 2022; for Q1 2024 196 issues increased their shares used for EPS over Q4 2023, and 255 reduced them.
  • S&P 500 Q1 2024 dividends decreased 1.6% to $151.6 billion from the prior Q4 2023 record of $154.1 billion and were 3.3% greater than the $146.8 billion in Q1 2023. For the 12-month's ending March 2024, dividends set a record $593.1 billion payments, up 3.4% on an aggregate basis from the prior 12-month March 2023's $573.7 billion.
  • Total shareholders return of buybacks and dividends increased to $388.4 billion in Q1 2024, up 4.1% from Q4 2023's $373.2 billion and up 7.2% from Q1 2023's $362.3 billion. Total shareholder returns for the 12-months ending March 2024 decreased 1.5% to $1.410 trillion from the prior 12-month March 2023's $1.431 trillion.
  • The 1% tax on net buybacks, which started in 2023, reduced the Q1 2024 S&P 500 operating earnings by 0.47%, up from Q4 2023's 0.44% impact, and As Reported GAAP earnings by 0.54% up from the prior 0.50%; for the 12-month March 2024 period they reduced earnings 0.41% for operating and 0.46% for As Reported.

"The share count impact on EPS increased for the first time after five consecutive quarters of declines as companies increased their overall buyback expenditure by 8%, which countered the impact of both share issuance and employee options being exercised. While buybacks supported share price, 13.3% of the issues saw a significant increase (of at least 4%) in their EPS due to share count reduction, compared to 18.5% in Q1 2023. For Q1 2024, more issues did buybacks and spent more. While the 13.3% remains lower than the 17.5% average and pales compared to the almost 25% rate posted in Q1 2019, the increase comes after five quarters of declines, and hints to a forward upswing. Companies with strong cashflows continued to aggressively do buybacks, as the top 20 issues accounted for 50.9% of the buybacks in Q1 2024," said Howard Silverblatt, Senior Index Analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

"Given the market's current expectations for interest rates to decline later in the year and the continued uncertainty over geopolitical and domestic issues, companies may be shy to finance buybacks going forward as discretionary buybacks, which reduce share count, may need to be financed from ongoing operations. Top-tier cash-flow issues however are seen as continuing their buybacks and positively impacting their EPS."

1% Buyback Excise Tax:

The 1% excise tax on net buybacks reduced Q1 2024 operating earnings by 0.47%, up from Q4 2023's 0.44% and up from the 0.45% for Q1 2023. The 12-month impact was 0.41%, up from 2023's 40% and down from the proforma 2022 of 0.51%. The tax on As Reported GAAP earnings impact increased to 0.54%, up from the Q4 2023 0.50% and up from the Q1 2023 0.49%. The 12-month impact was 0.46%, up from 2023's 0.45% and down from the proforma 2022 0.58%.

Silverblatt added: "The 1% tax remains an expense but has not impacted overall buybacks at this point. However, given the initial 1% buyback tax had bipartisan support and remains an attractive cash generator for the government, there is an expectation that some increase or potential change to the type of buybacks that are taxed will remain on the table following the election cycle. Given the current corporate sensitivity to costs, a buyback tax rate of 2%-to-2.5% was seen as impacting both buybacks and the EPS impact of share-count-reduction (which is already at a lower level due to high stock prices). This is because some of the expenditures may shift from buybacks to dividends. However, any shift would not be on a-dollar-for-dollar basis as dividends remain a long-term pure cash-flow item which must be incorporated into corporate budgets."

Q1 2024 GICS® Sector Analysis:

Information Technology maintained its lead in buybacks, representing 24.2% of all buybacks for the quarter. Q1 2024 expenditures increased 1.8% to $57.3 billion, compared to Q4 2023's $56.3 billion, it was up 24.8% from Q1 2023's $45.9 billion expenditure. For the 12-months ending March 2024, the sector decreased their expenditure 11.4% to $209.3 billion, representing 25.6% of all S&P 500 buybacks, compared to $236.3 billion spent in the prior 12-month period ending March 2023, which represented 27.6% of all buybacks.

Financials increased their buybacks by 46.5% for Q1 2024 as they spent $43.1 billion on buybacks, accounting for 18.2% of all S&P 500 buybacks. This was up for the quarter compared to Q4 2023's expenditure of $29.4 billion, but down from Q1 2023's $46.9 billion. For the 12-month March 2024 period, Financials spent $134.5 billion, up from $113.6 billion for the prior 12-month period.

Healthcare significantly increased their Q1 2024 expenditure by 93.5%, spending $25.5 billion, compared to the Q4 2023 expenditure of $13.2 billion and up 10.0% from the Q1 2023 $23.2 billion expenditure. For the 12-months ending March 2024, the sector spent $67.1 billion, down from the prior period's expenditure of $84.9 billion.

Consumer Staples increased their spending in Q1 2024 by 32.7% to $12.0 billion, up from the prior $9.0 billion and up 90.9% from the Q1 2023 expenditure of $6.3 billion.

Consumer Discretionary decreased their spending by 44.1% to $16.1 billion from Q4 2023's $28.7 billion and was 12.3% lower than the $18.3 billion spent in Q1 2023.

Issues:

The five issues with the highest total buybacks for Q1 2024 were:

  • Apple (AAPL): continued to dominate the issue level buybacks, as it again spent the most of any issue with its Q1 2024 expenditure ranking as the 6th highest in S&P 500 history. For the quarter, the company spent $23.5 billion, up from Q4 2023's $22.7 billion (the 10th largest in index history). Apple holds 18 of the top 20 record quarters (Meta Platforms holds #14 and QUALCOMM holds #16). For the 12-months ending March 2024, Apple spent $87.4 billion on buybacks, down from the prior 12-month period's $91.1 billion. Over the five-year period Apple has spent $429 billion, and $664 billion over the ten-year period.
  • Meta Platforms (META): $18.2 billion for Q1 2024, up from the $8.2 billion in Q4 2023; the 12-month expenditure was $34.6 billion versus the prior expenditure of $31.5 billion.
  • Alphabet (GOOG/L): $15.7 billion for Q1 2024, down from $16.2 billion in Q4 2023; the 12-month expenditure was $62.6 billion versus $60.6 billion.
  • NVIDA (NVDA): $9.5 billion for Q1 2024, up from $3.5 billion in Q4 2023; the 12-month expenditure was $21.3 billion versus $9.5 billion.
  • Wells Fargo (WFC)$6.0 billion for Q1 2024, up from $2.4 billion in Q4 2023; the 12-month expenditure was $13.8 billion versus 2022's $4.0 billion.

For more information about S&P Dow Jones Indices, please visit  https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/en/.

S&P Dow Jones Indices



S&P 500 proforma net buyback tax impact



TAX

TAX % OF

TAX % OF


$ BILLIONS

OPERATING

AS REPORTED

12 Mo Mar,'24

$7.44

0.41 %

0.46 %

12 Mo Mar,'23

$7.88

0.47 %

0.54 %

Q1 2024

$2.18

0.47 %

0.54 %

Q4 2023

$2.02

0.44 %

0.50 %

Q3 2023

$1.70

0.39 %

0.42 %

Q2 2023

$1.55

0.34 %

0.38 %

Q1 2023

$1.98

0.45 %

0.49 %

2023

$7.47

0.40 %

0.45 %

2022 proforma

$8.47

0.51 %

0.58 %

2021 proforma

$7.93

0.45 %

0.47 %

 

S&P Dow Jones Indices








S&P 500, $ U.S. BILLIONS


(preliminary in bold)






PERIOD

MARKET

OPERATING

AS REPORTED





DIVIDEND &


VALUE

EARNINGS

EARNINGS

DIVIDENDS

BUYBACKS

DIVIDEND 

BUYBACK 

BUYBACK 


$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

$ BILLIONS

YIELD

YIELD

YIELD

12 Mo Mar,'24 Prelim.

$44,078

$1,808.90

$1,606.39

$593.08

$816.45

1.35 %

1.85 %

3.20 %

12 Mo Mar,'23

$34,342

$1,678.59

$1,469.32

$573.73

$857.20

1.67 %

2.50 %

4.17 %

2023

$40,039

$1,787.36

$1,610.73

$588.23

$795.16

1.47 %

1.99 %

3.46 %

2022

$32,133

$1,656.66

$1,453.43

$564.57

$922.68

1.76 %

2.87 %

4.63 %

2021

$40,356

$1,762.75

$1,675.22

$511.23

$881.72

1.27 %

2.18 %

3.45 %

2020

$31,659

$1,019.04

$784.21

$483.18

$519.76

1.53 %

1.64 %

3.17 %

2019

$26,760

$1,304.76

$1,158.22

$485.48

$728.74

1.81 %

2.72 %

4.54 %

2018

$21,027

$1,281.66

$1,119.43

$456.31

$806.41

2.17 %

3.84 %

6.01 %










3/28/2024 Prelim.

$44,078

$460.63

$400.23

$151.61

$236.82

1.35 %

1.85 %

3.20 %

12/31/2023

$40,039

$452.44

$401.16

$154.10

$219.09

1.47 %

1.99 %

3.46 %

9/30/2023

$35,938

$437.90

$399.35

$144.18

$185.62

1.61 %

2.19 %

3.81 %

6/30/2023

$37,162

$457.93

$405.66

$143.20

$174.92

1.55 %

2.19 %

3.74 %

3/31/2023

$34,342

$439.08

$404.57

$146.76

$215.53

1.67 %

2.50 %

4.17 %

12/31/2022

$32,133

$421.55

$331.50

$146.07

$211.19

1.76 %

2.87 %

4.63 %

9/30/2022

$30,119

$422.94

$373.04

$140.34

$210.84

1.83 %

3.26 %

5.09 %

6/30/2022

$31,903

$395.02

$360.21

$140.56

$219.64

1.70 %

3.15 %

4.85 %

3/31/2022

$38,288

$417.16

$388.68

$137.60

$281.01

1.37 %

2.57 %

3.94 %

12/31/2021

$40,356

$480.35

$456.72

$133.90

$270.10

1.27 %

2.18 %

3.45 %

9/30/2021

$36,538

$441.26

$420.64

$130.04

$234.64

1.37 %

2.03 %

3.40 %

6/30/2021

$36,325

$439.95

$409.02

$123.38

$198.84

1.33 %

1.68 %

3.01 %

3/31/2021

$33,619

$401.19

$388.84

$123.91

$178.13

1.43 %

1.48 %

2.91 %

12/31/2020

$31,659

$321.81

$265.00

$121.62

$130.59

1.53 %

1.64 %

3.17 %

9/30/2020

$27,868

$314.06

$273.29

$115.54

$101.79

1.75 %

2.05 %

3.80 %

6/30/2020

$25,637

$221.53

$147.44

$119.04

$88.66

1.93 %

2.52 %

4.45 %

3/31/2020

$21,424

$161.64

$98.48

$126.98

$198.72

2.31 %

3.37 %

5.68 %

 

S&P Dow Jones Indices








S&P 500 SECTOR BUYBACKS








SECTOR $ MILLIONS

Q1,'24

Q4,'23

Q1,'23

12MoMar,'24

12MoMar,'23

5-YEARS

10-YEARS

Consumer Discretionary

$16,059

$28,716

$18,301

$81,248

$84,301

$360,610

$793,279

Consumer Staples

$11,998

$9,042

$6,284

$30,318

$35,294

$157,523

$370,235

Energy

$14,157

$16,060

$19,304

$64,703

$74,534

$179,256

$275,563

Financials

$43,087

$29,418

$46,891

$134,549

$113,632

$710,002

$1,283,424

Healthcare

$25,522

$13,188

$23,194

$67,077

$84,941

$376,507

$783,092

Industrials

$16,854

$27,112

$14,239

$70,837

$71,589

$304,040

$656,239

Information Technology

$57,290

$56,283

$45,923

$209,260

$236,303

$1,135,899

$1,976,566

Materia

FAQ

How did the S&P 500 buybacks change in Q1 2024 compared to Q4 2023?

S&P 500 buybacks increased by 8.1%, totaling $236.8 billion in Q1 2024.

What was the impact of the 1% buyback tax on Q1 2024 earnings?

The 1% buyback tax reduced Q1 2024 operating earnings by 0.47% and GAAP earnings by 0.54%.

How did the Consumer Staples sector change its buyback spending in Q1 2024?

The Consumer Staples sector increased its buyback spending by 32.7% in Q1 2024.

What was the total shareholder return for Q1 2024?

Total shareholder return for Q1 2024 was $388.4 billion, a 4.1% increase from Q4 2023.

How did Q1 2024 buybacks affect the EPS impact for the S&P 500?

The EPS impact showed a positive change for the first time in five quarters due to increased buyback expenditure.

What was the 12-month S&P 500 buyback expenditure to March 2024?

The 12-month buyback expenditure to March 2024 was $816.5 billion, down 4.8% from the previous year.

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