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Apple’s share buyback is bigger than most companies in the S&P 500

It pays to be an Apple shareholder. When the tech company reported its quarterly earnings yesterday, it announced plans to return another $100 billionyes, $100 billion—to shareholders via buybacks, lavishing riches on top of an already generous history of stock repurchases.

Apple spent $23.5 billion buying back shares in the first quarter of 2018, itself the biggest quarterly buyback in US corporate history. The previous record, according to data from the S&P, was also held by Apple, which bought nearly $18 billion in stock in the first quarter of 2014.

The $23.5 billion buyback at the start of this year amounts to more than the market value of 275 companies in the S&P 500.

Apple hasn’t put a date on its future share purchases, but said it wants to complete them “efficiently.” The future buybacks of $100 billion would be enough to buy:

Company Market value
UPS $97.8bn
Broadcom 94.2
Lockheed Martin 91.6
Morgan Stanley 91.6
Goldman Sachs 90.3
Salesforce 88.7
PayPal 88.6
BlackRock 83.6
Starbucks 80.9
Tesla (twice) 49.6

Apple has now completed $200 billion in share buybacks since 2012. That’s enough to buy Verizon, Coca-Cola, or Boeing. Of the 10 biggest quarterly buybacks in US corporate history, six were by Apple.

Looking back over the last few years, here are examples companies Apple could have afforded with the money it spent on share repurchases (adjusted for inflation).

Date Apple buyback Company Market value
Q1 18 $23.5bn Twitter $22.8bn
Q4 17 10.2 Domino’s Pizza 10.2
Q3 17 7.7 Jones Lang LaSalle 7.7
Q2 17 7.7 JCDecaux 7.6
Q1 17 7.2 Lazard 7.1
Q4 16 11.4 Gap 11.4
Q3 16 6.2 Dolby Labs 6.2
Q2 16 10.4 Ubisoft 10.3
Q1 16 7.3 Puma 7.3
Q4 15 6.3 Cathay Pacific 6.3

Apple’s cash pile is now $267 billion. After US president Donald Trump cut corporate taxes last year, Apple said it planned to bring back its cash from overseas. While the administration argued that tax reform would allow companies to spend more on wages and innovation, Apple is so far returning much of the money to its shareholders. No wonder its share price jumped more than 2% yesterday, strengthening its lead over the S&P 500.

Additional reporting by Jason Karaian.

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