Market Overview

Ride The Buyback Trend With 2 ETFs


Heading into the seventh year of the bull market, it may be a mystery as to where all the fresh cash fueling the market is coming from. A major catalyst has been a record number of companies buying back stocks.

Last year, according to a recent Bloomberg article, CEOs authorized $550 billion of buybacks, more than six times the $85 billion purchased by customers of ETFs and mutual funds. Averaging out to $46.1 billion a month of repurchases in 2014 and representing the largest gap between the two figures since 2012. These companies aren't showing any signs of slowing either, with February buybacks totaling $104.3 billion, the highest on record.

Are the buybacks good for the stock market or hiding the fact that organic earnings growth is slowing?

On one side, an argument could be made that they are used to boost per share earnings so the executives get compensated accordingly. This is also a technique used by companies to make up for slowing profits.

On the other hand, one could make the argument that these companies are in fact operating at a higher level and would like their performance be reflected in their stock price. Buyback plans are not cheap and require a large amount of cash to carry out, and any company executing substantial buybacks is most likely very financially sound.

Below are two buyback ETFs that have been riding the wave of the trend.

PowerShares Buyback Achievers ETF

The PowerShares Buyback Achievers Fund (ETF) (NYSE: PKW) is comprised of 214 U.S. companies that bought back 5 percent or more of stock in the last 12 months.

The ETF is distributed across 10 sectors, with consumer discretionary at 32 percent and information technology at 20 percent as the two most heavily weighted.

The top individual holdings of PKW include:

  • Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) at 5.6 percent
  • Home Depot Inc (NYSE: HD) making up 5.3 percent
  • International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) coming in at 4.8 percent

PKW is up 13 percent over the last 12 months and 8 percent over the last six months. The ETF has an expense ratio of 0.68 percent. The yield on the ETF is 0.90 percent.

Related Link: UPDATE: Southwest Expects To Complete Buybacks In May 2015

Cambria Shareholder Yield ETF

The Cambria ETF Trust (NYSE: SYLD) consists of 101 publicly traded companies with market caps greater than $200 million that rank among the highest in paying cash dividends, engaging in net share repurchases and paying down debt on balance sheets.

The top holdings include:

  • Frontier Communications Corp (NASDAQ: FTR) making up 1.5 percent
  • Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) with a 1.4 percent holding
  • Apple coming at 1.4 percent

SYLD is up 7 percent over the last 12 months ands 3 percent over the last six months. It has an expense ratio of 0.59 percent. The yield on the ETF is 4.2 percent.

The two ETFs take a different approach to investing in companies that are involved in buybacks; however, both are using their cash to either give money back to investors or buy back stock. The major difference is the high divided yield on SYLD that could make the ETF attractive to investors seeking income.


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