Cerner stock buyback could total 4 million shares

Cerner Corp. said Friday it would buy back up to $217 million of its own shares in the market.

The buyback would come in open market purchases, block purchases or transactions managed by brokers, the North Kansas City-based health care information technology company said.

“At current prices, we believe the repurchase of our stock is a good use of funds,” chief executive Neal Patterson said in the announcement.

Buying the shares would offset the issues of new shares to cover stock options exercised by employees, Cerner said.

Based on Thursday’s closing price, the $217 million would buy about 4 million shares.

Shares in Cerner closed Friday at $54.17, up 14 cents.

The stock shed 57 cents Thursday when Cerner said costs from an arbitration award against the company would cut fourth quarter earnings by 18 to 19 cents a share. Analysts had estimated earnings of 35 cents a share for the quarter.