6. Gilead Sciences

Gilead
A rarity on our list, Gilead Sciences easily spent more on its pipeline in the first nine months of 2019 than it did on buybacks and dividends. (Gilead)

Company: Gilead Sciences
Revenue in 2019: $16.57 billion
Value of repurchased stock 2019: $1.64 billion
Value of repurchased stock 2018: $1.93 billion
Dividends paid 2019: $2.42 billion
Dividends paid 2018: $2.24 billion
*All figures are first- to third-quarter totals.

Few pharmas have been more open about their desire for a major acquisition than Gilead, which spent much of the year plugging holes in its executive team. Despite the hunt for a big pickup, Gilead aimed high on pipeline spending on the year at the expense of stock buybacks and shareholder dividends. 

Gilead spent $1.64 billion on buybacks in the first nine months of 2019, about $290 million less than what it spent during the same time period in 2018. In terms of dividends, Gilead ponied up $2.42 billion in 2019 compared with a slightly lower $2.24 billion the year before. 

For 2019, at least, Gilead ranked as one of the rare drugmakers on the list that actually spent more on R&D than shareholder benefits, with $7.21 billion shelled out in the first three quarters. The year before, the drugmaker spent $3.07 billion on its pipeline during the same time frame.

With its 2019 buybacks, Gilead is still chipping away at a $12 billion share repurchase program its board authorized back in the first quarter of 2016, according to an SEC filing. As of Sept. 30, Gilead still had $3.5 billion in authorized buybacks remaining under that program. 

RELATED: Gilead elevates M&A architect Dickinson to CFO. Could more deals be next?

6. Gilead Sciences

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