NEW YORK - International Business Machines Corp., the world’s largest computer-services provider, will add $5 billion to its plan to repurchase stock, rewarding shareholders after back-to-back quarters of profit gains.
The increase, following the stock’s 43 percent jump this year, adds to the $4.2 billion left in IBM’s original buyback program at the end of September, the company said yesterday.
“It’s very consistent with how they’ve been returning capital to shareholders over many years,’’ said Chris Hickey, an analyst at Atlantic Equities LLP. “It’s clearly confirmation that they’re still buying back shares after the huge run the stock has had.’’
IBM said it has returned more than $70 billion to shareholders in the past six years. This month the company raised its forecast for annual earnings to at least $9.85 a share after posting a 14 percent gain in profit for the third quarter.
The company reported $11.5 billion in cash at the end of September. IBM is among a growing roster of companies to resume share repurchases, which had been halted during the economic slowdown. Travelers Cos. said this month its board approved $6 billion in stock repurchases and boosted its dividend.
IBM boosted its stock repurchase plan in April by $3 billion, after announcing a $15 billion buyback last year.