Massive Technology Trades Highlight Insider Selling: Barracuda Networks, Facebook, Adobe Systems, Autodesk, Square and More

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As we suspected, it now appears that many top insiders at companies put off selling shares last year, and moved their sales into 2017, and there is a very good reason. Many on Wall Street and in Washington, D.C., expect the Trump administration to lower the taxes on capital gains this year. Even though the legislation may not become final until the summer, it would probably be retroactive to the beginning of the year. We saw some big sellers this week, and that may very well be the reason why.

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 last week.

After Barracuda Networks Inc. (NASDAQ: CUDA) recently reported some very strong numbers, Chief Marketing Officer and co-founder Michael Perone took advantage. He sold a total of 3,740,147 shares at prices that ranged from $24.30 to $24.94 per share. The total for his trades was a massive $29,083,249.

Barracuda Networks designs and delivers security and data protection solutions, and its shares closed trading last Friday at $24.21. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $9.44 to $26.69. The consensus price target is $29.29.

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) also had a technology titan from Silicon Valley selling shares this past week. Sheryl Sandberg, who is the chief operating officer of the social media conglomerate, parted with a total of 109,000 shares at $119.68 apiece. The total for the sale was posted at $13,044,622. The shares closed last Friday at $128.34, in a 52-week range of $89.37 to $133.50. The consensus price target is $153.57.

A co-chairman of at Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE) sold some stock last week too. Charles Geschke got $108.52 apiece for a total of 23,100 shares. The listed total for the sale was $2,506,775. The stock closed trading last Friday at $108.53. It has a 52-week range of $71.27 to $111.09, and a consensus price target of $122.76.

Autodesk Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) also saw some big selling last week. CEO Carl Bass sold a staggering 300,000 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $76.94 to $79.84. The total for the three trades was a whopping $23,566,957. The shares closed trading last Friday at $81.32, so some money was left on the table. The 52-week range is $41.60 to $83.08. The consensus price target is set at $80.94.

Also this past week, Square Inc. (NYSE: SQ) co-founder Jack Dorsey, who is also the board chair, chief executive and president of the payment processing company, sold some shares. Those 381,500 shares went for $15.17 apiece. The total for the trade was posted at $5,787,233. The shares closed on Friday at $14.75, near the consensus price target of $14.87. The 52-week trading range is $8.06 to $15.91.

These companies also reported insider selling last week: American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), Cempra Inc. (NASDAQ: CEMP), Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST), Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT).

While the selling volume was huge last week, as we mentioned, with the potential for a reduction in the capital gains tax, many executives and insiders may have waited since the election to sell shares. Toss in the market remaining at or near all-time highs, and there is really no big surprise to the intense selling volume.