The stock buyback backlash may be misplaced

Posted February 19, 2019 12:18 p.m. EST

— Stock buybacks have come under fire lately, with politicians on both sides of the aisle arguing that the only people who benefit when big companies repurchase their own shares are already wealthy CEOs and other executives.

But David Kelly, chief global strategist with JPMorgan Funds, thinks that elected officials are making a mistake when they demonize stock buybacks.

Kelly said in his most recent weekly report for investors that companies already have "an incentive to hoard cash" and this would only increase if buybacks were discouraged.

The argument for buybacks is that they reduce the number of total shares outstanding, which increases earnings per share for all shareholders -- not just executives and other wealthy investors.

Kelly concedes that a big problem facing Corporate America "is that companies often don't know what to do with their excess cash." But he maintains it should be up to those companies, and not Washington, to decide what they should do with this money.

"It is far more efficient to let companies distribute the cash rather than encourage them to invest in areas that seem less profitable," he wrote, adding that "it is unnerving to see politicians from the left and right once again attack corporate greed as the source of all the nation's problems."

Kelly will be talking about all this with CNN anchor Julia Chatterley on the "Markets Now" live show Wednesday at 12:45 pm ET.

Chatterley will also be joined by Guggenheim Securities retail analyst Robert Drbul to talk about Walmart's latest earnings and its digital competition with Amazon as well as preview results from Target, Macy's and Kohl's.

"Markets Now" streams live from the New York Stock Exchange every Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. ET. Hosted by CNN's business correspondents, the 15-minute program features incisive commentary from experts.

You can watch "Markets Now" at from your desk or on your phone or tablet. If you can't catch the show live, check out highlights online and through the Markets Now newsletter, delivered to your inbox every afternoon.