Gigantic Bill Gates Trade Highlights Insider Selling: Microsoft, Facebook, McDonald’s, Salesforce, Delta Air and More

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Regular readers know that we have discussed that the corporate windows for transactions are closed during earnings, but with the busiest week for third-quarter numbers behind us, they appear to be coming open fast. We saw some huge technology sales this past week, and although they are very big, they also represent sales by individuals that have huge positions in the respective companies and are most likely just lightening up a bit.

We cover insider selling every week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind our readers that just because an individual or 10% institutional owner sells 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 last week.

Microsoft

One of the world’s most famous technology pioneers was selling Microsoft Inc. (NASDAQ: MSFT) shares this week. The founder and chairman of the board, Bill Gates, sold a massive block of 2,700,000 shares of the software giant at a price of $60.99 per share. The total for the huge sale was posted at $164,678,940.

To his credit, that price was right near the all-time high for the stock. Shares closed Friday’s trading at $59.87 apiece.

Facebook

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) was again the insider selling leader for last week as a director at the company, Jan Koum, shed a gigantic block of the social media giant’s shares for the fifth time in the past 60 days. Koum, an internet entrepreneur and computer programmer, is the CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application that was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for $19 billion.

Koum sold some 766,652 shares of the stock at $132.68 per share. The total for that sale was posted at a huge $101,719,422. Facebook shares ended the week at $131.31.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) Chairman Emeritus, and McDonald’s legend, Andrew McKenna parted with shares this past week. He sold 30,000 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $113.42 to $113.55. The total for the trade was posted at $3 million.

After sliding less than 2% for the week, shares of McDonald’s were changing hands at $112.10 as Friday’s trading came to a close.

Salesforce

Another firm that saw the man at the top selling stock last week was Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE: CRM). Marc Benioff, who is the chairman and the chief executive, sold a total of 12,500 shares of the stock at $75.15 apiece. That netted him some $939.324.

This top software company provides enterprise cloud computing solutions, with a focus on customer relationship management, to various businesses and industries worldwide. It offers enterprise cloud computing applications and platform services, including Sales Cloud that enables companies to store data, monitor leads and progress, forecast opportunities, gain insights through relationship intelligence and collaborate around sales on desktop and mobile devices. Its stock closed Friday at $75.12.

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) also had the man at the top selling shares last week. CEO Edward Bastian parted with a block of 50,000 shares at $41.25 apiece. The total for the sale came in at $2,062,050. Delta shares closed trading last Friday at $41.33, up only fractionally on a day when the board declared a dividend.

And Others

These companies also reported insider selling last week: Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE), Citrix Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CTXS), Mistras Group Inc. (NYSE: MG), Synnex Corp. (NYSE: SNX) and US Bancorp (NYSE: USB).

Lots of big sales, but in the case of almost of this week’s highlighted transactions, all the sellers have gigantic positions in the companies and were selling most likely for diversification or perhaps estate planning. When the selling looks suspect, 24/7 Wall St. readers will be the first to know.