Investing

Insider Selling Jumps as Market Volatility Highest Since Summer

The good day on Friday notwithstanding, market volatility jumped this past week to the highest level in almost two months. The volatility indicator, or VIX as it is known, declined on Friday after a much better-than-expected jobs report. That didn’t keep insiders from selling this week and taking some money off the table.

We cover insider selling each and every week here at 24/7 Wall St. We like to remind readers that insider selling is not necessarily a sign of trouble at a publicly traded company. Often company executives are overweighted on shares of their company’s stock. They can sell to diversify, for estate and tax planning, or even to make a large purchase like real estate.

Here is the past week’s insider selling report.

Micron Technology Inc. (NASDAQ: MU) is a very high-profile technology stock that had some insider selling this past week. The memory chip giant saw the president of the company sell 63,000 shares at $34.48, for a total sale of $2.2 million. His timing was spot on as Micron’s 52-week high is $34.85. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is $40.17. Shares closed trading Friday at $33.94.

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Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHN) has tripled since May, and a 10% holder decided it was time to ring the bell and likely take a big profit. RA Capital Management sold 1.3 million shares at prices ranging from $10.05 to $10.96, for a total sale of $3.1 million. The consensus price target for the high-flying biotech stock is $13.88. Shares were trading at $10.62 on Friday’s close.

Artisan Partners Asset Management Inc. (NYSE: APAM) has been on a steady decline all year, and a director sold some stock way off the highs posted back in January. The director sold 51,231 shares at $52.01, for a total of $2.7 million. While nobody knows exactly what prompted this sale, the stock was trading in the low $70s at the start of the year. For shareholders to see a sell hit the books 30% below the highs may be a red flag. The company pays a very solid 4.2% dividend. The consensus price target is $65.25, and shares were changing hands at $51.43 as of Friday’s close.

Panhandle Oil and Gas Inc. (NYSE: PHX) returns to our insider selling screen. A company director sold 37,685 shares at prices between $60.11 and $60.62, for a total sale of $2.3 million. The company recently announced a two-for-one split that will take place for shareholders next week. That could have prompted the selling. Investors are paid a small 0.5% dividend. The consensus price target is $30, which may reflect the upcoming split as shares ended Friday at $54.52.

Federated Investors Inc. (NYSE: FII) is a huge money management firm that caught some insider selling this week. The chairman of the Pittsburgh-based firm sold a block of 64,615 shares at prices ranging from $29.49 to $29.92. The total stock sale came to $2 million. Investors are paid a very solid 3.4% dividend. The consensus price target is $29.36. With shares trading at $29.17 on Friday, the chairman’s sale was well timed.

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Other companies that had insider selling this past week include Bluebird bio Inc. (NASDAQ: BLUE) and Alleghany Corp. (NYSE: Y).