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The following is a list of stocks that have announced buybacks in the past couple of months. Additionally, all of these companies have seen institutional and mutual fund buying over the last two quarters.

With buyback programs proving some downside protection and the smart money buying into the outlook of these companies, this list might offer an interesting starting point to risk averse investors.

Institutional data sourced from Fidelity and short float data sourced from Finviz.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research. Note: The numbers on top of items represent the forward P/E ratio, if available.


The list has been sorted alphabetically.

1. Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ:ADI): Semiconductor Industry. Market cap of $11.94B.

The company announced the buyback of $1B on Nov-22-10 (represents about 8.37% of current market cap). Net institutional shares purchased during current quarter at 12.5M, vs. 15.0M net purchases during previous quarter. Net mutual fund shares purchased during current quarter at 2.6M, vs. 2.4M purchased in the previous quarter. Short float at 3.41%, which implies a short ratio of 2.92 days. The stock has gained 53.01% over the last year.

Other Highlights:


- The company's capital spending accelerated by 5.48% over the last five years, much faster than the industry average of 1.52%. At least theoretically, this makes them more competitive over the coming years, since their operational assets are more up-to-date.

- Over the last year, the company has proven itself to be more profitable than its industry competitors. Trailing twelve month (TTM) gross margin at 69.54%, higher than the industry average at 57.76%. TTM EBITD margin at 37.57% vs. industry average at 32.7%, while TTM operating margin came in at 33.19%, higher than the industry average at 24.69%. The company also outperformed with its pretax margin, reporting a ratio of 32.65%, higher than the industry average at 23.29%.

- Judging by trailing twelve month (TTM) ratios like Return on Equity (ROE), Return on Assets (ROA) and Return on Invested Capital (ROI), it's clear that the company's management is doing an excellent job. TTM ROE at 23.93%, lower than the industry average at 29.3%, TTM ROA at 17.72% vs. the industry average at 16.22%, and TTM ROI at 20.98%, higher than the industry average at 19.07%. The company also outperformed its industry competitors in terms of the TTM Return on Sales ratio (25.76% vs. the industry average at 20.67%).

- The company has low debt and great liquidity, which significantly reduces its risk over the coming months. During the most recent quarter, the total Debt/Assets ratio stood at 9.26% vs. the industry average at 9.29%. Total Debt/Capital stood at 11.12%, while Total Debt/Equity came in at 12.52%, lower than the industry average at 27.94%. The company also appears to be more liquid than its competitors. The TTM Current Ratio stands at 5.62, higher than the industry average at 3.49. (Note: All ratios based on the most recent quarter, annualized)

2. Analogic Corporation (NASDAQ:ALOG): Scientific & Technical Instruments Industry. Market cap of $668.94M.

The company announced the buyback of $30M on Dec-09-10 (represents about 4.48% of current market cap). Net institutional shares purchased during current quarter at 332.9K, vs. 493.5K net purchases during previous quarter. Net mutual fund shares purchased during current quarter at 6.0K, vs. 252.3K purchased in the previous quarter. Short float at 4.44%, which implies a short ratio of 10.07 days. The stock has gained 39.14% over the last year.

Other Highlights:

- Insiders appear to be relatively optimistic on the outlook for the company. On a net basis, they've purchased an average of 625 shares per year (over last 2 years).

3. Alterra Capital Holdings Limited (NASDAQ:ALTE): Property & Casualty Insurance Industry. Market cap of $2.53B.

The company announced the buyback of $200M on Nov-02-10 (represents about 7.89% of current market cap). Net institutional shares purchased during current quarter at 2.7M, vs. 32.2M net purchases during previous quarter. Net mutual fund shares purchased during current quarter at 945.4K, vs. 2.6M purchased in the previous quarter. Short float at 2.74%, which implies a short ratio of 6.32 days. The stock has gained 1.86% over the last year.

Other Highlights:

- The company appears to be undervalued relative to book value. Price/Book ratio at 0.83, much lower than the industry average of 1.33.

- The company has demonstrated rapid cash flow growth over the last five years, which may lower their risk going forward. Five year average cash flow growth at 12.98%, much higher than the industry average at 4.15%.

- Over the last year, the company has proven itself to be more profitable than its industry competitors. Trailing twelve month (TTM) gross margin at 35.99%, higher than the industry average at 15.87%. TTM EBITD margin at 21.61% vs. industry average at 13.94%, while TTM operating margin came in at 21.61%, higher than the industry average at 12.31%. The company also outperformed with its pretax margin, reporting a ratio of 23.31%, higher than the industry average at 9.73%.

- Judging by trailing twelve month (TTM) ratios like Return on Equity (ROE), Return on Assets (ROA) and Return on Invested Capital (ROI), it's clear that the company's management is doing an excellent job. TTM ROE at 12.48%, higher than the industry average at 8.51%, TTM ROA at 3.27% vs. the industry average at 1.95%, and TTM ROI at 11.35%, higher than the industry average at 6.59%. The company also outperformed its industry competitors in terms of the TTM Return on Sales ratio (22.5% vs. the industry average at 7.14%).

- The company appears to have a very efficient workforce, which should help manage cost pressures going forward. Trailing twelve month Income/Employee stands at $724,003, higher than the industry average at $157,887. The company also outperformed on the Revenue/Employee metric ($3,217,200 vs. the industry average at $1,360,640).

4. Lihua International, Inc. (NASDAQ:LIWA): Copper Industry. Market cap of $302.68M.

The company announced the buyback of $15M on Jan-26-11 (represents about 4.96% of current market cap). Net institutional shares purchased during current quarter at 1.7M, vs. 1.9M net purchases during previous quarter. Net mutual fund shares purchased during current quarter at 74.1K, vs. 686.6K purchased in the previous quarter. Short float at 15%, which implies a short ratio of 8.24 days. The stock has gained 30.73% over the last year.

Other Highlights:

- When compared to industry competitors, the company reported better than average profit margins during the most recent quarter. Gross margins came in at 15.7%, lower than the industry average at 36.12% (most recent quarter, annualized). Operating margin came in at 14.02%, higher than the industry average at 10.23%, while net profit margin came in at 14.02% vs. the industry average at 10.23%.

- Judging by trailing twelve month (TTM) ratios like Return on Equity (ROE), Return on Assets (ROA) and Return on Invested Capital (ROI), it's clear that the company's management is doing an excellent job. TTM ROE at 31.56%, higher than the industry average at 14.6%, TTM ROA at 25.64% vs. the industry average at 5.63%, and TTM ROI at 30.91%, higher than the industry average at 12.34%. The company also outperformed its industry competitors in terms of the TTM Return on Sales ratio (11.47% vs. the industry average at 2.17%).

- The company has low debt and great liquidity, which significantly reduces its risk over the coming months. During the most recent quarter, the total Debt/Assets ratio stood at 1.32% vs. the industry average at 18.58%. Total Debt/Capital stood at 1.59%, while Total Debt/Equity came in at 1.62%, lower than the industry average at 43.9%. The company also appears to be more liquid than its competitors. The TTM Current Ratio stands at 4.51, higher than the industry average at 1.97. (Note: All ratios based on the most recent quarter, annualized)

- The company seems to be doing a good job managing its inventory and receivables, which provides more evidence of a solid management team. Trailing twelve month Inventory Turnover ratio came in at 14.89, higher than the industry average at 5.49, while trailing twelve month receivables turnover came in at 15.32 vs. the industry average at 5.17.

- Insiders appear to be optimistic on the outlook for the company. On a net basis, they've purchased an average of 4,000 shares per year (over last 2 years).

5. Select Medical Holdings Corporation (NYSE:SEM): Hospitals Industry. Market cap of $1.1B.

The company announced the buyback of $100M on Nov-04-10 (represents about 9.13% of current market cap). Net institutional shares purchased during current quarter at 998.0K, vs. 315.7K net purchases during previous quarter. Net mutual fund shares purchased during current quarter at 656.7K, vs. 3.9M purchased in the previous quarter. Short float at 0.93%, which implies a short ratio of 3.26 days. The stock has lost -24.94% over the last year.

Other Highlights:

- Insiders appear to be optimistic on the outlook for the company. On a net basis, they've purchased an average of 15,000 shares per year (over last 2 years).

6. Unitrin Inc. (UTR): Property & Casualty Insurance Industry. Market cap of $1.77B.

The company announced the buyback of $300M on Feb-02-11 (represents about 16.99% of current market cap). Net institutional shares purchased during current quarter at 155.6K, vs. 158.9K net purchases during previous quarter. Net mutual fund shares purchased during current quarter at 860.9K, vs. 179.7K purchased in the previous quarter. Short float at 0.39%, which implies a short ratio of 1.12 days. The stock has gained 32.05% over the last year.

Other Highlights:

- The company outperformed analyst earnings estimates during the most recent quarter, suggesting that the analyst community is underestimating the stock. The company reported earnings per share of $0.74 per share, and exceeded the First Call Consensus of $0.58 (Q4 Earnings on 02/03/11). The company also outperformed analyst estimates over the last year, reporting earnings per share at $2.83, beating the consensus view at $2.47 (based on the estimates of 2 analysts).

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: 6 Stocks With Buyback Programs, Seeing Institutional Buying