Corporate America, armed with the Trump tax cuts, lavished Wall Street with a multi-trillion dollar share buyback spree over the past two years.
Now, some of the same companies that binged on buybacks are in line to receive taxpayer-funded bailouts to keep them alive.
Boeing (BA), for example, spent $11.7 billion over the past two years on repurchasing stock before suspending buybacks in April 2019 because of the 737 Max crisis. The aerospace behemoth is now requesting $60 billion in federal assistance as the coronavirus crisis has crushed its customers and forced factories to shut down.
Southwest Airlines (LUV) spent $2 billion on share buybacks in 2019. Similarly, last year American Airlines Group (AAL)also spent $1.1 billion to repurchase its stock at an average cost of $32.09 per share. American Airlines shares closed Monday at just $10.
Now the airline industry is seeking $50 billion in federal help as it fights for survival during a stunning decline in worldwide travel.
Even in early March, as the coronavirus crisis mounted, Hilton (HLT) announced $2 billion of buybacks. Days later, Hilton (HLT) withdrew its earnings outlook. The hotel industry is now seeking some $150 billion in federal assistance as the coronavirus has caused occupancy rates to crash.
This situation is only deepening the backlash against buybacks, paving the way for bipartisan restrictions against share repurcha