Christopher Meredith from investingresearch.net did a great research on buybacks. He tried to determine if companies are mostly trying to manipulate earning with buybacks or is there really some added shareholder value from stock repurchases.
Data collected and used in the research shows that companies that were buying back their shares actually achieved quite higher returns compared to companies that were actually “manipulating” their earnings with accruals (as seen in the chart below).
This research is a good addition to existing research done by Meb Faber (Shareholder yield discussed in his podcast¸; book on the topic) and Patrick O’Shaughnessy (how to properly do buybacks; and timing the market with buybacks) and others.
Here is also some interesting recent buyback data from FactSet (includes highest buyback yield stocks).