Hospira's $1B buyback joins Big Pharma trend

Along with Street-beating earnings, Hospira has announced that its board has approved a $1 billion stock-buyback plan. It's Hospira's second buyback program ever, with the $400 million plan authorized in 2006 only recently completed. "This share-repurchase program underscores our continued belief and optimism in Hospira's long-term growth prospects, as well as our commitment to return value to our shareholders," CEO F. Michael Ball said in a statement.

With its buyback plan, Hospira joins a slew of pharma firms that have recently set aside billions to repurchase shares. Companies big and small are doing it. Two months ago, the world's largest drugmaker, Pfizer, expanded its share-repurchasing plans to $9 billion, with $5 billion of those buybacks to come this year. Meanwhile, the directors of Enzon Pharmaceuticals--with annual sales of some $98 million, a tiny fraction of Pfizer's $67.8 billion--authorized a $200 million buyback plan.

Here's a list of the other Big Pharma companies that recently announced buyback plans. GlaxoSmithKline announced in February its first share-repurchasing program since 2008, planning to buy up to $3.2 billion in its own shares this year. Also in February, Novo Nordisk said it would buy 10 billion crowns' worth (about $1.9 billion) of its own stock this year, on top of 9.5 billion crowns last year. AstraZeneca doubled its stock-buying plans to $4 billion in January. In December, Novartis said it would buy back $5 billion in shares, in conjunction with its acquisition of Alcon. And last May, Bristol-Myers Squibb's directors authorized a $3 billion buyback plan.

- see Hospira's Q1 results
- check out Hospira's statement on the buyback
- see the Dow Jones news