Buying Back America

Tech firms across the board were busy rolling out stock buyback programs today as the market plunged after reopening for the first time after the events of last Tuesday.

The moves clearly showed the tech industry’s interest in helping to shore up the market, (which as expected went sharply lower shortly after the opening bell) while at the same time capitalizing on the depressed stock prices in the IT sector.

The Dow was down over 500 points shortly after the opening, and Nasdaq was down 103. A positive factor was the Fed’s move cutting its benchmark federal funds rate to 3 percent from 3.50 percent, and also lowered its discount rate by 50 basis points to 2.5 percent.

Among the companies buying back stock were
Chip maker Intel Corp. said it would increase its current stock buyback program by 300 million shares, worth about $7.8 billion based on a Sept. 10 closing price of $26.07 a share.

3Com Corp. announced it will commence open market repurchases of its common stock “as a clear signal of confidence in our company and the public equity markets.”

“The events of last week do not diminish one iota our confidence in the economic and political systems of this country and other free market countries
in which we do business,” said 3Com President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Claflin.

Online brokerage E-TRADE Group Inc. said it will repurchase up to 50 million shares, effective immediately. Content management application provider Vignette Corp. , which said it would repurchase up to $50 million of its common stock, and Akamai Technologies, Inc., the provider of distributed application and content delivery services, today announced that its board of directors has authorized the repurchase of up to $20 million of it common stock over the next six months.

The buyback effort was aided by giant companies like General Electric, , which said it would accelerate its current stock buyback program, for which about $2.8 billion remains under its current buyback authorization. Morgan Stanley is saying that it expects to utilize some or all of the roughly $1 billion in its remaining buyback authorization.

Meanwhile Echelon Corp. said today it would buy back up to 2 million shares of its stock over the next two years. The company makes gear to connect
everyday devices such as appliances, thermostats and air conditioners to each other and to the Internet.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems said last Friday that its board authorized a stock repurchase program of up to $3 billion over the next two years.

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