Companies use cash stash to buy own stock

Oct. 7, 2010 at 2:01 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. companies have been on a spending spree, using their large nest eggs to buy their own stock, keeping the price up, economic analysts say.

Birinyi Associates, a research company, said announcements that companies would purchase their own stock total $273 billion this year, The Washington Post reported Thursday. That is five times similar purchases last year.

Analysts say companies have record amounts of cash on hand but executives are reluctant to spend the money investing in equipment or hiring new workers for fear that consumer demand will remain weak.

"They don't know what they want to do with all the cash they're sitting on," said Zachary Karabell of RiverTwice Research.

Among the large companies involved in buybacks this year have been Hewlett-Packard, Pepsico and The Washington Post Co. Microsoft has borrowed to buy back its own stock because interest rates are close to zero and much of its cash is overseas.

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