Stock buybacks are generally considered a bullish signal on Wall Street. They often announce management's belief that its stock is cheap, and that its own shares will provide its best return on investment. Like dividends, buybacks also let companies return capital to shareholders.

How buybacks work
Done correctly, share repurchases will increase earnings per share, so long as profits stay at least at the same level. A company with $1 million in earnings and 1 million shares outstanding will have earnings per share of $1. Now, if it buys back 250,000 shares, leaving only 750,000 shares outstanding -- and total profits remain $1 million -- its new EPS would be $1.33, or $1 million divided by 750,000.

We're seeking companies that have announced stock buyback programs. Then we'll head over to Motley Fool CAPS to get some insight into the 73,000-strong investor community's preferred picks. If companies announce stock buybacks, and CAPS' top investors endorse their future prospects, Fools should take notice.

Here are some of the latest companies to announce share repurchase programs.

Company

Buyback Announcement Date

Amount of Buyback

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Boeing

10/29/2007

$7 billion

****

Acxiom (NASDAQ:ACXM)

10/29/2007

$75 million

*

United Parcel Services (NYSE:UPS)

10/30/2007

$2 billion

****

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH)

10/31/2007

210 million shares

*****

InterDigital (NASDAQ:IDCC)

10/31/2007

$100 million

*****

Immersion (NASDAQ:IMMR)

11/1/2007

$50 million

*****

Allegheny Technologies (NYSE:ATI)

11/1/2007

$500 million

****

American Standard Companies

11/1/2007

$750 million

***

Robert Half International

11/1/2007

10 million shares

**

Crocs (NASDAQ:CROX)

11/2/2007

1 million shares

**

Sources: Company press releases; Motley Fool CAPS.

The CAPS advantage
Investors at CAPS seem to be fairly optimistic about this group of companies announcing buyback programs; more than half of the firms have garnered a top four- or five-star rating.

Specialty metals producer Allegheny Technologies has been able to benefit from the surging demand for titanium, a lighter, more resilient metal than steel. Boeing, for example, which itself has authorized a massive $7 billion share repurchase program, has been using titanium purchased from Allegheny to reduce the weight of its planes. The first half of the current fiscal year knocked back the metals producer, as the credit crunch roiled the markets. But with a strong second half forecast, CAPS players see opportunity here.

Top-rated CAPS All-Star jester112358, with a 99.92 player rating, expects continuing titanium demand to position Allegheny for future growth: "The substitution of Titanium for steel is accelerating in many applications, boding well for this stock which is well off its 52 week high. Attractive P/E which should be lower in the future."

CAPS investor eslough adds that demand in emerging economies should give Allegheny additional chances to surpass previous efforts: "This stock will continue to move higher as the global aerospace boom is still in its infancy. Demand for new, more fuel-efficient passenger jets should continue to explode as the economies of India, China, Brazil, etc. continue to expand."

Foolish fallout
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InterDigital and UnitedHealth are recommendations of Motley Fool Stock Advisor. UnitedHealth is also a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. UPS is an Income Investor selection. Don't shrink from the opportunity to try out any of the Fool's investment services risk-free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.