Amazon picked a good day to unveil some notably shareholder-friendly moves, with a long-overdue stock split and a $10 billion stock buyback program. It may not be a coincidence that the announcement came the same day a bipartisan congressional committee asked the Justice Department to investigate what it called “potentially criminal conduct” by Amazon and certain executives. The headlines about that move are the kind any company would want to wash away with some news of its own.
More significant than the timing, though, is the fact that CEO Andy Jassy unveiled the new buyback and the stock split at all. Amazon isn’t known for buying back its shares—something slow-growing but profitable companies typically do to boost their stock prices. Amazon’s big tech counterparts—Microsoft, Apple and Alphabet, which generate gobs of cash—are regular buyers of their own stock. Amazon, at least until recently, also made plenty of money. Yet while it authorized a $5 billion buyback in 2016, the program was unused until January of this year, according to its securities filings.