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Merrill Lynch authorizes stock buyback

Merrill Lynch & Co., the largest U.S. brokerage, Tuesday said its board authorized a buyback of up to $2 billion of company stock.
/ Source: Reuters

Merrill Lynch & Co., the largest U.S. brokerage, Tuesday said its board authorized a buyback of up to $2 billion of company stock.

In a statement, Chief Financial Officer Ahmass Fakahany said the New York-based company has generated "substantial levels of capital" in the last two years.

Merrill Lynch had 1.01 billion common shares outstanding as of Dec. 26, 2003. The company's shares closed at $57.73 on the New York Stock Exchange Monday.

The repurchase authorization represents 1.7 percent of Merrill's total shares outstanding, based on Monday's closing stock price.

"Our balance sheet and liquidity are strong, and we will continue to actively manage our capital base," Fakahany said in the statement.

Merrill, which has about $1.5 trillion in client assets, said share buybacks will occur from time to time as market conditions warrant.

Merrill shares have dipped 1.6 percent so far this year but rose 54.5 percent in 2003. The company last month said 2003 profit rose to a record $4.0 billion on net revenue of $20.2 billion.