This column was originally published on RealMoney on Sept. 20 at 12:11 p.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.
did a lot of things right this quarter to get that
big number, but the thing that it did best of all was buy back its stock in a shrewd, if not brilliant fashion. Only fair, given that Goldman has long been a great buyer and seller of stocks for its clients.
In fact, I believe that Goldman just created the benchmark for good buybacks, and we should look a little deeper instead of just saying "Hey, way to go."
First of all, not all buybacks are created equal. Some are much more strident and forceful than others. Some buybacks really make a statement and get the job done; others are phantom and simply make you "feel" good that they are there, even though in reality they aren't.
Goldman's is now the definition of "for real." The firm bought back 258,700 shares a day. That's 7.6%of the volume. The firm paid an average of $106.76 per share, and rang up more than 16 million shares. That took the share count down from 506.2 million to 494.2 million.
That's real firepower, used right, to shrink the shares outstanding and move the stock up. So many buybacks do nothing or just barely offset the issuance and are bought so high vs. the current share price that I have come to think of buybacks very often as an awful joke.
Not this one.
I propose using these metrics, in terms of share removal and percentage of average volume and price, as the way to measure all other big-cap buybacks. I believe we can hold managements accountable using this scale, because, given Goldman's rise during the quarter, we know that the buyback was an integral part of the rally.
indicates that there's no glut of big screens; good for
and of course,
. ... One of the things that
Eddie Lampert, who trained on the desk where Goldman ran its buybacks, knows how to do is buy back stock, even as Sears fell 10 points after Eddie announced his. I say that's fine, build up the negativity. Do you believe that Kmart moved from $20 to $100 on the strength only of earnings? Keep his firepower in mind.
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At the time of publication, Cramer was long Sears Holdings.
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