Perhaps the only chart more troubling than JNJ's stock price in 2015, which after starting the year around $105/share has since tumbled to a low of $91, before rebounding modestly to $95, was the chart of its stock buybacks, shown below.
We leave readers to pull it up on their own, but this chart of JNJ buybacks correlates virtually 1:1 with the performance of the company's stock price, once again confirming that in the New Normal world, where the only margina buyer of Index futures are central banks, when it comes to individual stocks, the biggest buyer is the company itself.
In any event, with JNJ about to announce - what are almost certain to be very bad - earnings in just a few minutes, the company decided it was prudent to set the mood by preannouncing, less than an hour before earnings, good days are back again and that the company will do all in its power to not only increase the buyback pardon equity-linked compensation of CEO Alex Gorsky, but to reward shareholders for sticking with a company that hasn't announced a major buyback plan in recent months.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) today announced that its Board of Directors has approved the repurchase of up to $10 billion of the company's common stock."We are pleased that Johnson & Johnson's strong balance sheet and cash flow enable us to simultaneously return value to shareholders through our regular quarterly dividend and share repurchases, while at the same time continuing to invest in internal and external opportunities that will further strengthen our robust enterprise pipeline and drive long-term growth," said Alex Gorsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "The Board of Directors and management team believe that the company's shares are an attractive investment opportunity and repurchasing stock is an important part of our capital allocation strategy."
Repurchases may be made at management's discretion from time to time on the open market or through privately negotiated transactions. The repurchase program has no time limit and may be suspended for periods or discontinued at any time. Any shares acquired will be available for general corporate purposes. The company had approximately 2,767.3 million shares of common stock outstanding as of September 27, 2015.
We are confident both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will unleash the full wrath of populist pandering on Mr. Gorsky who instead of spending billions to make JNJ's medical devices drugs more cost-effective and thus cheaper and more affordable by the sinking US middle class, has decided to reward himself and other shareholders with this latest gift courtesy of bond investors desperate to earn any real return by managing other people's money, and who apparently have nothing better to invest in than generating outsized returns on Mr. Gorsky's own portfolio.