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The screens at the TMX Broadcast Centre in Toronto show the closing numbers of the TSX on Tuesday, July 3, 2012.Matthew Sherwood/The Globe and Mail

Metro Inc. isn't sitting on its newest cash grab for long.

After the grocer sold $479-million worth of Alimentation Couche-Tard shares in January, investors wondered what management would do with the money. A week later the company announced a share buyback, and on Wednesday the company doubled down, saying that it would buy back up to one million more shares.

Metro isn't alone. In the past few months a flurry of Canadian companies across multiple industries have announced buybacks, or increased the size of their existing plans. Examples include Canadian National Railway Ltd., Tim Hortons and WestJet.

The reasoning differs for each company, but for many the buyback is expected to beef up a stock price that suffers from weaker operating performance. When Tim Hortons increased its program to $250-million in February, the company's profit dipped. At Metro, sales are slipping.

Apple's mind-blowing $50-billion buyback falls into the same category. The company's shares have tumbled massively in the past few months, and management decided it should return some of the cash it has stored on the balance sheet to shareholders.

For those keeping track, Apple's buyback is officially the largest on record, according to Thomson Reuters. The next three biggest were announced by Microsoft Corp. in 2004, 2006 and 2008, amounting to $96-million in total.

With so many companies hopping on the bandwagon this year, the total amount of announced U.S. share buybacks is 58 per cent higher than the total at this point in 2012.

But also remember that buybacks can come in good times. When Home Depot announced its own stunning $17-billion repurchase in February, the news was announced concurrent with stellar quarterly results. The same is true for WestJet's latest buyback.

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