Huge Bill Ackman Pershing Square Trade Highlights Insider Selling: Platform Specialty Products, Charles Schwab, F5 Networks, Goldman Sachs and More

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In what was one of the wildest weeks of 2016, investors were out in full force buying stocks, and that was something that had insiders waiting to sell shares licking their chops. With the third-quarter earnings parade over, many of the windows prohibiting insider trades are opening back up, and the positive markets and extreme liquidity made the timing perfect for those selling.

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 insider selling last week.

Platform Specialty Products Corp. (NYSE: PAH) had a well-known seller parting with a huge chunk of stock. Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square hedge fund sold a total of 2,285,888 shares of the stock at $8.78 apiece. The total for the sale was posted at $20 million. The company produces and sells specialty chemical products in the Americas, the Asia-Pacific and Europe. The stock closed last Friday at $8.52.

Insperity Inc. (NYSE: NSP) also had a large-scale seller on the desk, and it was another well-known hedge fund. Value Act, which also serves as a director at the company, sold a total of 226,000 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $71.22 to $72.41. The total for the sale was set at $16 million. Insperity provides an array of human resources and business solutions to enhance business performance for small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. The shares closed the day on Friday at $71.85.

Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) also had a famous investor selling stock this past week. The chairman of the company, Charles Schwab, continues to sell stock at an orderly pace. This week the iconic discount brokerage executive and the CEO of the company combined to sell a block of 400,000 shares at prices between $35.43 and $35.46. The total for the trades came to a whopping $14 million. As we have noted in the past, Mr. Schwab is past 80 years old, and clearly much of his selling over the years has been for estate planning purposes. The shares ended Friday at $37.48 so a fair amount left on the table.

F5 Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIV) had the CEO at the company selling some stock this past week. John McAdam parted with 16,898 shares at prices that ranged from $138.47 to $141.54. The total for the sale was posted at $2 million. The company develops, markets and sells application delivery networking products that optimize the security, performance and availability of network applications, servers and storage systems. The shares closed Friday at $142.01, so a touch left on the table here as well.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) had an executive vice president at the Wall Street giant selling some stock this week. That executive sold 24,509 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $203.49 to $203.54. The total for the sale was set at $5 million. Note that the share price at the end of the week was $210.35.

These companies also reported insider selling last week: Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET), Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc. (NYSE: CFR), Rockwell Automation Inc. (NYSE: ROK), Stamps.com (NASDAQ: STMP) and Western Alliance Bancorporation (NYSE: WAL).

While the selling definitely picked up last week, the volume was still less than the buying — at least it appeared that way. Insider selling at current levels, especially with 2016 drawing to a close, is not surprising to us.