There is now hard data to show that the biggest tax break in three decades is being funneled to capital expenditures rather than share buybacks. This according to a recent article in Bloomberg.
“Among the 130 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported results in this earnings season, capital spending increased by 39 percent,” the article reports, “the fastest rate in seven years, data compiled by UBS AG show. Meanwhile, returns to shareholders are growing at a much slower pace, with net buybacks rising 16 percent.”
The data refutes the warnings by some that the found money would go to buying back shares—an activity which has drawn widespread criticism from politicians and money managers as being short-sighted. “By their line of logic,” the article says, “companies take advantage of low interest rates to borrow money and buy back shares as a quick way to boost per-share earnings. In doing so, they’re forgoing investment opportunities that may benefit long-term growth.”
According to data compiled by Goldman Sachs, the article reports, over the past year “shares of companies with the highest layouts on repurchases and dividends relative to market value are trailing those that spend the most on capital expense by almost 5 percentage points.”