Jun 2, 2020 - Economy

Companies sold more than $60 billion of their own stock in May

A shrugging emoji in a stock ticker

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

U.S. public companies sold more than $60 billion of their own stock last month, the largest monthly total ever.

Why it matters: Like the record $1 trillion of corporate debt issued so far this year, the equity sales show companies are looking to raise cash. But it also indicates many are dubious of the market's nearly 40% rally since March 23 and are cashing out ahead of a possible pullback.

What they're saying: “Issuers that have seen their stock prices recover are now also taking the perspective that they don’t want to miss this window in case this rebound is short-lived,” Santosh Sreenivasan, head of equity-linked capital markets for the Americas at JPMorgan, told Reuters.

  • Ryan Parrish, head of Americas equity capital markets syndicate at Bank of America, added: “We’re talking to a lot of companies around the fact that the market is here, you don’t know what lies in the economy to come."
  • “If you even remotely have a need you should get it done now.”

Between the lines: It hasn't just been companies with stock prices that have rebounded fully that are participating in the equity issuance bonanza.

  • Southwest Airlines and cruise operator Carnival issued new stock during the month, even as share prices remain 40% and 70% below January levels, respectively.
  • At their low points during the month, Southwest's stock was 65% below its Jan. 2 level and Carnival's was 75% lower.
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