In his July 20 op-ed on stock buybacks, “Stock buybacks and a shaky economy,” Robert J. Samuelson argued that stock buybacks can be seen as mature companies returning money to shareholders when companies have run out of investment opportunities. Some examples provided of such “mature” companies are Apple, Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle.

As someone who has worked in high tech since mainframes dominated data processing, I can categorically state nothing could be further from the truth. Apple faces continual uncertainty surrounding maintenance of its “walled garden” ecosystem; Microsoft is chasing Amazon Web Services for cloud supremacy; Oracle desperately needs to move beyond its database hegemony. And Cisco is still establishing beachheads that go beyond its core networking competency. Oh, and IBM, a company whose revenue has dropped by 27 percent since 2011, has spent approximately $1.6 billion on stock buybacks in the same time period. Does that look like a company that has too much money to invest back into its business?

As Sigmund Freud is reported to have said, sometimes a “cigar is just a cigar.” And all these buybacks are exactly what they appear: a transparent exercise in enriching executives and shareholders while employees, contractors and local communities are starved of their fair share of corporate profits.

Andrew Birnbaum, Shepherdstown, W.Va.