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When a company purchases shares of its own publicly traded stock or its own bonds in the open market, it's called a buyback.
The most common reason a company buys back its stock is to make the stock more attractive to investors by increasing its earnings per share. While the actual earnings stay the same, the earnings per share increase because the number of shares has been reduced.
Companies may also buy back shares to pay for acquisitions that are financed with stock swaps or to make stocks available for employee stock option plans.
They may also want to decrease the risk of a hostile takeover by reducing the number of shares for sale, or to discourage short-term trading by driving up the share price.
Companies may buy back bonds when they are selling at discount, which is typically the result of rising interest rates. By paying less than par in the open market, the company is able to reduce the cost of redeeming the bonds when they come due.