Stryker (NYSE:SYK) said today that its board of directors authorized a share repurchasing program worth up to $2 billion.
Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Stryker said it still has $583 million in stock buybacks authorized under a prior share buyback.
Companies often initiate share repurchases to boost the price of their stock.
"We remain committed to pursuing a capital allocation strategy that includes acquisitions, dividends and share repurchases," chairman & CEO Kevin Lobo said in prepared remarks. "While M&A activity across the breadth of our product and service offerings will remain the primary focus of our long-term growth strategy, this new authorization recognizes that the strength of our balance sheet is sufficient to enable more significant share repurchases. We believe that efficiently deploying our balance sheet will enable growth in sales and earnings and maximize shareholder returns."
Leerink Partners analyst Richard Newitter said the repurchase doesn’t necessarily take Stryker off the M&A board, but wrote that the move might make a long-rumored tie-up with rival Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN) less likely.
"This is modestly bigger than the company’s last few share repurchase programs, but not so big in our view that it takes additional M&A off the table," Newitter wrote this morning in a note to investors. "SYK’s balance sheet has been very much in focus as it represents a key avenue to shareholder value creation, in our view, for the company. M&A has historically been the first priority, followed by share repos and then dividends. While this buyback announcement is larger than prior authorizations, we don’t think it takes M&A off the table by any stretch. However, at the margin it could be viewed as a sign that larger M&A (i.e., a much-speculated potential bid for SNN) – at least over the nearer term – is less likely. In all, we view SYK’s balance sheet flexibility favorably, and we view buybacks as one of a number of cash deployment mechanisms at the company’s disposal to drive higher shareholder value."
Leerink has Stryker’s stock rated at "outperform." SYK shares were trading at $94.25 apiece in mid-day activity today, down 1.9%.