Insider Selling Surges as Markets Hit Record High

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With the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average at record highs, and the Nasdaq hitting highs not seen since 2000, the volume of insider selling reached some of the highest levels this year. With the year end just a short six weeks away, many insiders may be wanting to beat the late December selling rush and take the profits now.

Despite the avalanche of selling hitting our 24/7 Wall St. screens, we like to remind our readers that insider selling doesn’t always indicate a problem at an individual company. Many high-level insiders are compensated with stock and stock options and can be severely overweighted to their company’s shares. So selling for diversification, tax and estate planning and other reasons often prompt the move.

Here are this past week’s top insider selling trades.

Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) saw a mammoth sale at the top of the company. The president and COO of the company, John Milligan, exercised options and sold 146,895 shares of the biotech giant at prices that ranged from $106.85 to $108.77. That made for a nice take-home profit, after the options price is figured in, of $14.5 million. We covered the sale in depth this week. Gilead shares were trading at $100.20 on Friday, so clearly a very well-timed sale.

ALSO READ: Insider Buying Gets Selective as Markets Hit Record High

Noodles & Co. (NASDAQ: NDLS) saw a director hit the bid in a big way this past week. Scott Dahnke sold 1.5 million shares of the stock at $22.81, for a total sale of $35 million. The company had a hot IPO last year, but the sale is way below the 52-week high. Investors may want to revisit their thesis on this company. Shares were trading Friday at $23.37.

Hasbro Inc. (NYSE: HAS) had a director of the company come in with a large sell order. Alan Hassenfeld sold a total of 666,000 shares of the toymaker’s stock at prices that ranged from $56.72 to $58.17. The total sale came to a hefty $38.4 million. Hasbro was in the news this week on a possible merger deal with filmmaker DreamWorks. Shares were trading on Friday at $54.90, so a well-timed trade.

DaVita HealthCare Partners Inc. (NYSE: DVA) saw the co-chairman of the company sell a block of 250,000 shares last week at prices that ranged from $74.46 to $75.51. The total for the sale was a tidy $18.8 million. The company provides kidney dialysis services for patients suffering from chronic kidney failure or end-stage renal disease. The stock was trading at $77.07 on Friday, so some money was left on the table.

Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) had the man with his name on the door sell stock yet again this past week. The venerable Charles Schwab, the owner and founder of the discount brokerage firm, sold another 750,000 shares of stock at prices that ranged from $28.71 to $28.98. The total of the sale came to $21.7 million. Shares were trading on Friday at $29.

ALSO READ: Key Insider Buy Lifts Pandora Shares

Other companies that saw insider selling this week included: Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE: VGR), Intermolecular Inc. (NASDAQ: IMI), Masco Corp. (NYSE: MAS), Codexis Inc. (NASDAQ: CDXS) and Hawaiian Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: HA).

One thing is for sure, if the market continues to rally, expect to see more insiders selling stock. We will continue to track all the insider action as we head toward the end of 2014.