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Expand chart
Data: Compustat, Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

The earnings environment is going so well for big companies that they're announcing new stock buyback plans at a record pace.

Why it matters: Last year, stock buyback activity fell sharply as companies were hanging onto cash amid extreme uncertainty. The about-face shows that confidence is up, along with earnings.

By the numbers: S&P 500 companies have approved plans for a whopping $567 billion worth of stock buybacks since the beginning of the year through mid-June, according to a new Goldman Sachs report. This is a record for this part of the year.

  • It’s worth noting that Apple and Alphabet accounted for $90 billion and $50 billion, respectively, of those announcements.
  • Goldman analysts expect companies to follow through with those approvals and execute $726 billion in buybacks this year, up 35% from $537 billion in 2020.

Context: This isn’t the only thing companies are spending money on. Capital expenditures, R&D and acquisitions are all expected to be above pre-pandemic levels.

The bottom line: Corporate cash flows are very strong right now. And business confidence is high enough that America’s biggest companies are happy to shovel cash to their shareholders.

Go deeper: Summer's expected IPO stampede likely to fuel record year

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Sep 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Why Mailchimp's potential sale would be unique

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Bloomberg recently reported that Intuit is in talks to buy Mailchimp for more than $10 billion, we noted how the email marketing company hadn't taken any outside funding since its 2001 founding. It got us to wondering about other bootstrapped success stories, particularly in this era of easy money for startups.

What we learned: Mailchimp is unique, so long as it sells for double-digit billions.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.