Aside from being well-known, industry-leading brands, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Target (NYSE: TGT), and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) may not have much in common as companies. Another throughline is that each business generates a ton of free cash flow (FCF) and then uses that FCF to pay dividends and buy back stock. Here's how stock buybacks have helped to bolster shareholder value, and why Apple, Target, and Caterpillar are top stocks to buy now.
In late February, Walmart announced that sales rose 8% in the core U.S. market, in part thanks to market share gains in the grocery department. Likewise, Dollar General executives credited increased market share when it revealed 6% comparable-store sales growth in its fiscal Q4.
It's an unwelcome sight for shareholders of retailer Target (NYSE: TGT); the stock struggled in 2022 and is now almost 40% off its high. Or are investors down on the stock for good reason? You can see in the chart how operating margins declined substantially from long-term averages.