(Stock buyback story updated for Coca-Cola Enterprises $1 billion stock buyback)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The stock buyback surge in the S&P 500 Index has been the No. 1 sign of C-suite executives across the U.S. being willing to get back to the business of spending cash hoarded during 2009.
CCE) announcing on Oct. 14 that it will buyback up to $1 billion of its shares in the next 18 months, and starting the the fourth quarter of 2010. Coca-Cola Enterprises recently sold its North American operations to Coca-Cola Co. for $3.4 billion and went public as a separate entity. It has a $12 billion market cap. The company said it will use cash and incremental debt to finance the repurchase program. The $1 billion Coca-Cola Enterprises stock buyback program would rank it among the Top 10 repurchase authorizations in 2010 based on dollar value and percentage of outstanding shares -- roughly 12%. Companies are coming back, but still nowhere near 2005 to 2008 levels of stock buyback activity. "I'm surprised activity has increased as much as it has," the Birinyi analyst said, noting that a year ago all you could read about was the doomsday double dip bear market bounce, and the wheels of financing were halted. "To see where we are today in such a small amount of time, to see companies in the market repurchasing stock in large programs surprised me," Leiphart said. These companies may not be in competition with the S&P 500 in terms of investor shelf space or dollar value of buyback programs, but they are buying back blocks of shares to a greater extent than the buyback kings of the S&P 500. What follows is a ranking of the Top 10 stock buybacks announced so far in 2010 - in ascending order of percentage of shares outstanding represented.