S&P Dow Jones Indices estimates companies in the S&P 500 index bought back $144.1 billion of company stock in the first quarter of 2015.
That figure is down 9.5% from the first quarter of 2014 when buybacks totaled $159.3 billion, but up 8.7% from last quarter when they totaled $132.6 billion.
Information technology companies accounted for nearly a quarter of the buybacks in the first quarter (Apple accounted for 5% alone). Financials were next (15.6% of the total), followed by health care (14.5%) and industrials (14%).
Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a news release, “the continued takeaway is that over 20% of the companies are buying their earnings-per-share (EPS) growth via buybacks.”
“The reduced share count has significantly increased EPS for a fifth of the companies in the S&P 500 by at least 4% year-over-year in each of the past five quarters.”