Big Tech and Biotech Trades Highlight Insider Selling: Gap, Adobe, Celgene, Splunk and More

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The going is getting tougher for stocks as earnings reports for the first quarter are starting to roll out. Toss in the geopolitical situation getting more dramatic with the United States launching missiles into Syria after a horrible chemical weapons attack, and the cauldron is truly stirred up. Insiders are using their last open windows to sell shares before they are closed for the earnings reports, and the volume dropped dramatically last week.

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 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 in the past week.

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) had a director who is also a 10% owner of the company selling stock last week. FCH TBME LLC sold 500,000 shares of the retailer at prices that ranged from $24.50 to $24.70. The total for the sale was set at $12 million. The shares closed trading last Friday at $24.03. Their 52-week trading range is $17.00 to $30.74, and the posted consensus price target is $25.11.

Verint Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: VRNT) caught a seller in the week, as the CEO Dan Bodner shed  137,773 shares of the provider of actionable intelligence solutions and value-added services worldwide. The per-share price ranged from $42.50 to $43.18, and the total for the trade was posted at $6 million. Shares closed Friday at $40.45, so a well-timed sale indeed. The 52-week range for the stock is $31.43 to $44.70, and the consensus price target is $43.80.

Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) had a director at the big data tech company selling stock this past week. That board member sold a 50,000 share block at $62.87 apiece. The total for the sale was posted at $3 million. The stock closed Friday at $60.95, so good timing on this trade. The 52-week trading range is $45.07 to $66.46, and the consensus price target is $72.11.

Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) is another well-known tech stock that caught a seller last week. An executive vice president parted with a 20,000 share block at between $130.27 and $130.39 per share. The total for the sale was posted at $3 million. The stock closed last Friday at $130.22, in a 52-week range for the software giant is $90.35 to $131.33. The consensus price target is $143.50.

Celgene Inc. (NASDAQ: CELG) had a director at the biotech leader selling some stock as well. That board member sold a total of 14,033 shares at prices that ranged from $123.76 to $123.92. The total for the sale came in right at $2 million. Shares ended the week at $125.58, so some money was left on the table. The 52-week trading range is $94.42 to $127.64. The consensus price objective is $140.13.

These companies also reported insider selling this past week: Ameriprise Financial Inc. (NYSE: AMP), Cavco Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: CVCO), Copart Inc. (NASDAQ: CPRT), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) and Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE: VGR).

We are in for a spell of low-volume insider action for the next three weeks or so, and with the markets trending lower in March and so far in April, we may see a big pickup in activity after earnings for the first quarter conclude.