8 Fascinating Reads: Express Scripts Holding Company (ESRX)

Happy Friday! There are more good news articles, commentaries, and analyst reports on the Web every week than anyone could read in a month. Here are eight fascinating ones I read this week.

Welcome back
Companies are now buying back a record amount of their own stock, writes Birinyi Associates. This is typically a bad sign, as companies have an abysmal history of timing buybacks. Enjoy it while it lasts:

We recorded $117.8 billion in buyback authorizations during the month of February, representing a 103% gain over the same period in 2012 ($118 bln vs. $68 bln). February was the largest month, in dollar terms, on record.

We are currently on a run-rate to log $827 bln of authorizations in 2013 vs $477 bln in 2012. 2007 was the only year in our database where we recorded more ($863 bln).

Express Scripts Holding CompanyGood news if you’re worried about the budget
The decline in health care cost growth appears to be alive and well, writes The Wall Street Journal:

The latest numbers from St. Louis-based Express Scripts Holding Company (NASDAQ:ESRX) show that the pharmacy-benefit company saw spending on traditional drugs among commercially insured members slip 1.5% last year — the first-ever decline in two decades of tracking data.

The U.S. will continue to dominate oil
As a result of America’s ongoing oil boom, the U.S. overtook Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil-producer in November. The International Energy Agency predicts that this will be true on an annual basis within a decade (via the American Enterprise Institute):