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Why Wal-Mart’s $15 billion stock buyback may not be as great as it seems

Hugh Jackman Wal-Mart shareholders meeting

When Wal-Mart Stores does a thing, it does it big. The stock buy-back it announced at its annual meeting today is no exception, at $15 billion, hot on the heels of an earlier $15-billion repurchase plan.

So it’s probably a good time to remember that stock buybacks generally aren’t the unparalleled good that they can seem at first glance.

Here is how four companies are ignoring their shareholders’ votes

NYSE Euronext

Forget majority rules. In US-style corporate elections, it’s rarely so simple.

Investors can complain as loudly and clearly as they like, but corporate boards are often free to ignore them, with few or no immediate consequences. That’s true whether the protest involves ousting a board member or changing how the company does business.

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