Safeway Inc. has added $1 billion to its stock buyback program, which had just $400 million left in it as of Feb. 22, reports the San Francisco Business Times.
Safeway bought 43.3 million of its own shares in October, November and December 2011.
The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company had about 297 million shares of common stock outstanding at the end of 2011.
Companies buy back stock in particular because having fewer shares outstanding pushes up per-share earnings figures. Buying shares also is another way companies spend the cash they have accumulated, paying back money, in effect, to shareholders, according to the Times.
The company also gave performance grants of shares to these executives, though it didn’t give details of these “long-term incentive” awards: Chairman, President and CEO Steve Burd; CFO Robert Edwards; CMO Diane Dietz; EVP of Retail Operations Bruce Everette; and President of Safeway Health Inc. Larree Renda.
Safeway has 1,678 stores in the U.S. and Canada. At the end of 2011, it owned 42 percent of them and leased the others. The number of stores has been dropping for years—it is down from 1,761 in 2007, the Times says.
It has 13 warehouses in the United States and four in Canada.
At the end of 2011, it also operated six milk plants in the U.S. and three in Canada; six bakeries in the U.S. and two in Canada; a cheese and meat packing plant in Canada; and four soft drink bottling plants in the U.S.
The company has about 178,000 employees.