S&P 500 company share buybacks totaled $553.3 billion in 2014, according to preliminary data released Monday by S&P Dow Jones Indices. That figure is up 16.3% from 2013.
Fourth-quarter buybacks of $132.6 billion slid about 9% from the third quarter, but were up 2.5% from the fourth quarter in 2013.
Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, noted in a release that share count reduction "has significantly increased earnings-per-share for 20% of the index issues in each of the past four quarters. While fourth-quarter expenditures were down 8.7%, the number of companies reducing their share count by at least 4% year-over-year, and therefore increasing their EPS by at least that amount, continues to be in the 20% area – a significant level."
Share buybacks hit their all-time high mark in 2007 when firms spent $589.1 billion.