When it comes to Wall Street and shareholders, cash is still king. With corporate profits at record highs and interest rates near historic lows, companies are returning value to shareholders at a pace not seen in years. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), the world’s largest company by market capitalization, leads the way.
During the third-quarter, share buybacks among members of the S&P 500 surged 32 percent year-over-year to $123.9 billion, according to FactSet. Over the trailing 12-month period, a massive $448.1 billion worth of shares were repurchased, representing the biggest haul since the second quarter of 2008. Furthermore, 431 companies in the index participated in a share repurchase program during the third quarter.
At $30.7 billion, the Information Technology sector spent the most on buybacks in the third quarter, up 78.5 percent from a year earlier. Apple, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Cisco Systems, (NASDAQ:CSCO), Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), Visa (NYSE:V), SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK), and Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) each increased their share buybacks by at least $1 billion year-over-year. Apple made the largest contribution by increasing its activity by $5 billion. In the second-quarter alone, Apple repurchased $16 billion and accounted for nearly 13 percent of all repurchases in the S&P 500.