Massive Institutional Purchases Highlight Insider Buying: Wells Fargo, Apollo Global, Pulse Biosciences, IFF and More

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In another up and down week, the markets seesawed as some positive earnings reports were buffeted by some geopolitical issues. With interest rates being pushed down by investors looking for safe havens in the U.S. Treasury market, the stock market is becoming more appealing, even while trading at historically high multiples. Insider activity was limited with windows for transactions being mostly closed, but we did see some huge institutional trades hit the tape.

We cover insider buying each week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind readers that while insider buying is usually a very positive sign, it is not in of itself a reason to run out and buy a stock. Sometimes insiders and 10% owners have stock purchase plans set up at intervals to add to their holdings. That aside, it still remains an overall positive indicator.

Here are some of the companies that reported notable insider buying this past week.

Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO) had a huge hedge fund again buying shares last week. Tiger Global Management bought 1,176,400 shares of the private equity giant at prices that ranged from $25.42 to $26.10. The total for the purchase was reported at a whopping $30 million. Earlier in the week, the company had bought 1,486,800 shares at prices from $25.39 to $26.17. This trade cost a huge $38 million. The stock closed last Friday at $25.01. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $14.25 to $26.20, and the Wall Street consensus price target is $27.

Pulse Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ: PLSE) had a 10% owner adding to a position last week. Major shareholder Robert Duggan added to his already significant holdings of the development stage medical device company by buying an additional 319,242 shares at between $21.83 and $26.65 apiece. The total for the trade was posted at $8 million. The shares closed Friday at $23.79, in a very wide 52-week range of $4.03 to $35.93. The consensus price objective was not available.

Wells Fargo Inc.’s (NYSE: WFC) new CEO, Timothy Sloan, made shareholders happy last week when he and a director at the bank bought a total of 97,342 shares at $51.65 apiece. The pair paid a total of $5 million for the purchases. The stock closed Friday at $53.00, so the timing looks good. The 52-week trading range for the stock, which is fighting back from last year’s public relations nightmare, is $43.55 to $59.99. The consensus price target is $57.61.

Calavo Growers Inc. (NASDAQ: CVGW) was another company that had the CEO buying stock last week. Lecil Cole purchased 42,942 shares of the marketer and distributor of avocados and other perishable foods at prices between $61.35 and $62.00 per share. The total for the purchase was set at $3 million. The stock closed last Friday at $64.95, so once again, solid timing here. The 52-week range for the shares is $48.745 to $71.48, while the consensus price target is $73.17.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE: IFF) is yet another company that hit our screens with a 10% institutional owner buying stock last week. Winder Investment picked up an additional 24,780 shares at prices between $132.90 and $134.78. The total for the trade was a solid $3 million. The shares ended last week at $136.12, so a timely buy for sure. The 52-week trading range is $113.16 to $143.64. The posted consensus price target is $131.73.

These companies also reported insider buying last week: America’s Car Mart Inc. (NASDAQ: CRMT), Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL), Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ORMP), PacWest Bancorp Inc. (NASDAQ: PACW) and Sigma Designs Inc. (NASDAQ: SIGM).

With another slew of S&P 500 earnings this coming week, it may prove to be another slow week for insider trading. One thing’s for sure: once we hit May, it will speed back up.