Stock buybacks crashed through the ceiling in 2018. Companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index alone announced plans to repurchase almost $1 trillion in shares - a tactic that not only makes the remaining stock worth a little more, but improves per-share financial metrics in their quarterly reports.
Generous corporate tax cuts took hold in 2018, making it easy for many of the nation's businesses - which already were flush with cash - to pull the trigger. The same business-friendly tax environment could make 2019 another strong year for stock buybacks.
Eclipsing last year's tally would require continued economic growth, of course, although not even a nagging tariff war appears to be a problem for capitalism just yet. Inflation is being held in check, too, and the Federal Reserve is leaning dovish, so few landmines lie ahead. The only plausible threat to buyback mania to date is legislation aimed at crimping excessive stock repurchases. Even then, the idea has minimal support and could take until at least 2020 to put in place if approved.
In other words, the environment is right for 2019 to be another strong year for share repurchases. In fact, several organizations have already made their announcements. Here are 10 companies that have initiated or increased stock buybacks just since the beginning of the year.SEE ALSO: Millionaires in America 2019: All 50 States Ranked
The recent passing of Vanguard founder John Bogle was a great loss for the investment world. Bogle was responsible for introducing index investing to the fund industry, and in the process, he helped millions of Americans reduce their costs and reach their retirement goals sooner.
Bogle launched the first index fund in 1976 and lived to see his creations grow to a $4.6 trillion industry as of 2018. Capital continues to pour into indexed products, and Moody's predicts they will grow to represent 50% of the total investment market within five years. This popularity has grown because of index funds' numerous benefits, which include ...Lower costs. Index funds don't need to employ teams of research analysts or portfolio managers trying to beat the market by constantly trading stocks. As a result, costs are significantly lower than actively managed funds. Diversification. Index funds often seek to track a broad benchmark and frequently own hundreds if not thousands of different stocks, whereas the typical actively managed fund holds fewer than 100 stocks. The breadth of holdings helps reduce market risk. Greater transparency. Index funds have a straightforward objective: match the performance of a market benchmark. These products don't suffer "style drift," which occurs when fund managers goose returns by investing in stocks that don't meet the fund's guidelines. Superior performance. An annual fund-performance report from S&P Dow Jones Indices showed that in 2018, the majority of actively managed large-cap mutual funds trailed the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index - for the ninth consecutive year.
Here are 11 of the best index funds to buy for a variety of financial goals. This list consists mostly of ETFs but includes a few mutual fund options (including mutual fund versions of ETFs).SEE ALSO: The 19 Best ETFs for a Prosperous 2019