Gigantic Walton Family Member Trade Highlights Insider Selling: Wal-Mart, Viacom, Wayfair, Blackrock, Goldman Sachs and More

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It’s never a surprise to us at 24/7 Wall St. when insider selling starts to spike. After all, with the market trading near all-time highs for the past six weeks, and earnings restriction windows reopening, insiders are taking advantage and selling shares. While this week’s volumes were more robust, they are nowhere near panic selling levels, which is a positive for the market in the long term.

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 portfolios or purchase other assets.

Here are companies that reported notable insider selling this past week.

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) had a member of the founding family of the company selling a massive chunk of the stock. Rob Walton who is a 10% owner and a director at the retail giant, sold a total of 3.5 million shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $71.27 to $71.51. The total for the sale was posted at an incredible $250 million.

The stock closed trading last Friday at $72.50, so some money was definitely left on the table.

Viacom

A director at media giant Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIAB) was selling shares last week. That director parted with a total of 749,281 shares of the company at prices between $41.35 and $41.79 a share. The total for the trade was posted at $31 million.

The company creates television programs, motion pictures, short-form content, applications, games, consumer products, social media, and other entertainment content. The stock closed the day Friday at $39.90, so the sale looks well-timed.

Wayfair

Wayfair Inc. (NYSE: W) had a director and 10% owner of the company selling stock last week. Great Hills Equity Partners shed a block of 500,000 shares at prices that ranged from $37.62 to $38.75 per share. The total for the sale was posted at $19 million.

Wayfair engages in the e-commerce business in the United States. It offers approximately 7 million products for the home under various brands. It also sells its products through online retail partners. The stock ended trading on Friday at $38.79.

BlackRock

A director at BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK) also parted with some company shares. That director sold a total of 38,379 shares at prices that ranged from $373.90 to $376.35 apiece. The total for the sale was listed at $14 million.

The firm primarily provides its services to institutional, intermediary, and individual investors. It also manages accounts for corporate, public, union and industry pension plans, insurance companies, third-party mutual funds, endowments, foundations, charities, corporations, official institutions and banks. The stock closed Friday at $373.85, so a well-timed trade.

Goldman Sachs

Another big Wall Street firm, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), also had an insider selling stock last week. An executive vice president at the company gave up a total of 14,000 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $165.49 to $167.24. The total for the sale was set at $2 million.

The stock closed Friday at $169.18, so cash was again left on the table.

And Others

These companies also reported insider selling last week: Brinker International Inc. (NYSE: EAT), Evercore Partners Inc. (NYSE: EVR), Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI), M&T Bank Corp. (NYSE: MTB) and Papa John’s International Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA).

While the volume has picked up big since second-quarter earnings finished up early in August, the kind of selling we experienced this week is in line with expectations. We will continue to keep an eye out for selling in distressed companies.