Intel took its first public steps to reposition its business for the coronavirus outbreak Tuesday, suspending stock buybacks indefinitely.
“To date, Intel has kept its factories operational while safeguarding the health and safety of employees and continues to have a strong balance sheet,” the chipmaker said in a regulatory filing Tuesday. “Intel’s management believes the suspension, while conservative, is prudent given uncertainty regarding the length and severity of the pandemic.”
Intel announced in October that it would buy up to $20 billion of its stock by early 2021. The company said Tuesday it had purchased $7.6 billion in shares.
During most of that period Intel’s share price was trading well above where it is today. The stock has fallen from a peak of nearly $70 in February to $52.65 early Tuesday.
That means the value of stock Intel purchased during the buyback period has fallen precipitously. Today’s prices are relatively cheap, but Intel has evidently calculated that there is either a risk of further declines or that the company eventually may need its cash for other purposes.
Intel had $13.1 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of December. The company made no change in its dividend payments Tuesday.