Coke ( KO) and Black & Decker ( BDK) joined Microsoft ( MSFT) in rolling out huge share buybacks Thursday.
Atlanta-based Coke said it would buy back up to 300 million shares, representing 13% of its outstanding stock. Black & Decker, Towson, Md., boosted its buyback plan by 8 million shares, representing more than 10% of its stock. And mighty Microsoft of Redmond, Wash., surged 6% in late trading after the company set plans for a $20 billion tender offer and $20 billion in additional repurchases. "With our share-repurchase programs announcement today, we reaffirm our confidence and optimism in the long-term future of the company and continue to execute on our strategy of returning capital to shareholders," said Microsoft finance chief Chris Liddell. "Our new share-repurchase program reflects the Board's continued confidence in the Company's future performance and our long-term cash flow generation," said Coke chief Neville Isdell. "This new plan, combined with 44 years of consecutive annual dividend increases, underscores our continued commitment to delivering increased value to shareowners." "The Board's decision today to increase the share-repurchase authorization reflects our confidence in the Corporation's ability to deliver excellent cash flow. We will remain disciplined stewards of capital, balancing acquisitions, share repurchases and dividends to best serve our shareholders," said Black & Decker chief Nolan Archibald. The news comes as Wall Street has begun militating for cash-rich companies to start returning capital to shareholders. A fierce debate at miner Phelps Dodge ( PD) turns on whether the company should go ahead with a plan to take on debt and buy two rivals or give its money back to its owners. Late Thursday, Coke rose 45 cents to $44.29 and Microsoft added $1.35 to $24.20.