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Get Ready for Another Alphabet Share Buyback

Fortune Global Forum 2015Fortune Global Forum 2015
Alphabet CEO Larry PagePhotograph by Stuart Isett — Fortune Global Forum

Alphabet owners might soon find themselves offered another share repurchase, one analyst says.

In a note to investors this week, Citi analyst Mark May said that he expects Alphabet (GOOGL) to announce its second share-repurchase program at some point within the next thirty days. He said it’s possible Alphabet, which counts Google[f500link] as one of its subsidiaries, could announce the plan at its second-quarter earnings call in mid-July, or possibly sooner.</p> <p>Alphabet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.</p> <p><a href="">Alphabet shocked investors in October</a> when the company announced its first-ever share-repurchase plan. The move was one that shareholders had been calling on for years, and it came just two quarters after Ruth Porat joined the company as CFO. Indeed, many have credited Porat with not only doing a fine job of managing Alphabet’s financials, but also leading the charge on share repurchases.</p> <p>That said, some were concerned that the first repurchase plan, which maxed out at $5.1 billion, was too small for a company with more than $70 billion in cash and marketable securities. But Alphabet trudged on, and according to May, bought back $1.8 billion by the end of the 2015 fourth quarter and $2.3 billion in the first quarter of 2016.</p> <p style="text-align:center;"><em><a href="">Get Data Sheet</a>, </em>Fortune<em>’s technology newsletter</em></p> <p>Share repurchases are typically popular among stockholders. The practice allows the company to reduce the number of outstanding shares, thereby improving return on assets and return on equity, and growing earnings per share more quickly. It also unleashes some of the cash on the company’s balance sheet back to shareholders, who want a bigger piece of the company’s success. [f500link]Apple (AAPL) is another notable technology company that has used a share-repurchase program to deliver more cash to its investors.

While Alphabet has not signaled plans to launch another share-repurchase program, May believes all signs are pointing to it. He wrote in his note to investors that Alphabet’s recent uptick in share repurchases, along with a stable stock valuation, and that Alphabet is likely done with its first round of repurchases, all suggest it would make sense for the company to make the move again this year.

Based on that, and Alphabet’s continued success—May noted that Alphabet notches approximately $20 billion in free cash flow each year—he says the new repurchase authorization is coming soon. However, he did not predict how big the repurchase authorization might be. He did, however, say that he remains bullish on Alphabet’s future.

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“Despite recent search and YouTube datapoints that could be viewed by some as mixed, we remain constructive,” he wrote to investors. Citi is maintaining its Buy rating and $900 price target. As of this writing, Alphabet’s shares are trading at $690.82.