Huge Insider Selling Continues With Markets Still Near Highs: Wal-Mart, Facebook, Juniper Networks, Home Depot and More

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With the markets still near all-time highs last week, it was not at all surprising for us here at 24/7 Wall St. to see insiders keep selling shares. The names of some very well-known corporate giants showed up on our screens this week, and much of the insider selling was massive, though nothing for investors to get too concerned about.

We cover insider selling every week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind readers that just because an individual or 10% institutional owner is selling stock, that is no cause for immediate alarm. Many top executives, and even directors, are compensated with stock and often sell just to diversify or purchase other assets.

Here are companies that reported notable insider selling last week.

Wal-Mart

Three of the Waltons — Alice, Samuel Robson and Jim — via the family trust have unloaded a huge number of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) shares in the past week. At share prices ranging from $72.36 to $72.73, the more than 4.68 million shares shed brought in more than $339.67 million.

These transactions came in the wake of a positive earnings surprise from Wal-Mart that pushed shares to a 52-week high of $75.19. The stock ended Friday’s trading at $71.14 a share, so the sales appear to be well-timed.

Facebook

The big daddy of social media reported some insider selling again in the past week. The chief counsel and a director at Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) gave up a total of more than 933,000 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $125.00 to $123.86. Altogether that was worth nearly $116.21 million.

Note that Facebook remained a favorite of hedge funds in the second quarter. And the stock closed most recently at $124.96 a share.

Juniper Networks

A director at Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) thinned his stake last week. That director sold almost $17 million worth of the stock, or 750,000 shares valued at $23.46 apiece. Afterward, that director still held more than 1.2 million shares.

Juniper was one of a handful of undervalued tech companies this summer, and it hit its 52-week low of $21.18 in June and then again in July. Shares closed Friday at $23.28 apiece.

PacWest Bancorp

A PacWest Bancorp (NASDAQ: PACW) director also reduced his stake last week. He sold 610,000 shares of the Beverly Hills-based bank at prices that ranged from $41.89 to $42.33 per share. That netted him about $25.67 million and shrank his stake to less than a million shares.

Shares are up 30% in the past six months, and the stock ended Friday’s trading session at $41.84 per share.

Home Depot

The chief financial officer sold shares of big-box retailer Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) stock this past week. At a share price of $135.10, those more than 97,000 shares sold were worth some $13.21 million.

Analysts, like investors, were more pleased with Home Depot’s earnings report than that of rival Lowe’s. Home Depot stock closed on Friday at $134.36, down marginally for the week.

And Others

These companies also reported insider selling last week: BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK), Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW), Pentair PLC (NYSE: PNR) and Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB).

While some the selling was huge, it resembled nothing other than normal selling. With the markets still trading near all-time highs, investors can expect more of the same, but nothing appears to be out of the ordinary at this juncture.