- Share buybacks are expected to approach $1 trillion this year, according to Goldman Sachs.
- Funding is coming from a record drawdown in cash as well as a rise in gross debt and leverage.
- Buybacks have exceeded free cash flow for the first time since the financial crisis.
U.S. companies are on pace to break another record for share repurchases in 2019, using a combination of cash and debt to push the total to close to $1 trillion.
For the first time since the financial crisis, companies have given back more to shareholders than they are making in cash net of capital expenditures and interest payments, or free cash flow, according to Goldman Sachs calculations.
The level of buybacks to free cash flow hit 104% for the 12 months ending in the first quarter of 2019, the first time that number has topped 100% during the economic recovery that started in 2009. In 2017, the level was 82%.