Investing

Despite Huge Rally, High-Profile Insiders Still Buying Stocks

Lee Jackson

With one of the largest weekly rallies in almost three years printed and in the books, one would expect that insiders looking to add to their positions would wait for a downturn in the market. That wasn’t the case this past week. Even as all the major indexes roared back from the pounding inflicted by crumbling oil prices, insiders made substantial purchases of company stock. As the year is winding down quickly, this could be a very bullish sign for stock investors looking ahead to 2015.

We track insider buying and selling each week at 24/7 Wall St., and some of this week’s buying could very well be attributed to the recent steep sell-off. Despite the huge rally, some of the insider trades were earlier in the week, as buyers took advantage of very weak pricing and a total lack of bids from the market.

Here are this past week’s top insider buying trades:

Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) saw one of Wall Street’s biggest players buy stock. Activist investor Carl Icahn, who is a 10% owner of the company already, purchased a whopping 2.5 million shares of the company stock at prices that ranged from $29.90 to $30.27. The total purchase was a huge $73.5 million. Navistar shares were trading at Friday’s close at $32.87, so the buy was well timed.

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Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) was another top holding that Icahn bought stock in this week. A 10% owner in Hertz as well, he bought an additional 2.6 million shares of the rental car giant at $21.36 apiece. The total purchase price came to a sizable $56.2 million. Hertz shares were trading Friday at $22.68, so another outstanding buy.

Seattle Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: SGEN) shows up on our screens for the second time this month, and for the second time the buy is a staggering one. Director and 10% owner of the company Felix Baker bought 2.9 million shares of the biotech firm at $31.70 to $31.94. The total purchase came to an incredible $91.9 million. The share price is way down from the March highs, so this is a very bullish statement for current investors. Shares ended trading on Friday at $32.89.

Scripps Network Interactive Inc. (NYSE: SNI) is yet another company that had a 10% buyer step up to the plate this week. Charles McCabe purchased a block of 665,000 shares at $74.71, for a total buy of $49.7 million. The company operates national television networks, such as Food Network, Home and Garden Television (HGTV), Travel Channel, DIY Network, Cooking Channel and Great American Country (GAC), as well as websites, including FoodNetwork.com, HGTV.com, TravelChannel.com, DIYNetwork.com, CookingChanneltv.com, and GACTV.com. Shares traded on Friday as high as $79.64, so a very well-timed purchase indeed.

Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AGIO) is another high-profile biotech company that saw a large purchase last week. Celgene European Investment Company, a 10% of the stock, bought an additional 228,645 shares at $110.80, for a total purchase price of $25.3 million. This is a very bullish sign for shareholders as the biotech giant continues to add shares. The stock closed trading at $119.62 on Friday, so perfect timing for the purchase.

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These companies also had insider buying this past week: NuStar Energy L.P. (NYSE: NS), La Jolla Pharmaceutical Co. (NASDAQ: LJPC), Platform Specialty Products Corp. (NYSE: PAH), Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: ENH) and RPC Inc. (NYSE: RES).

Any way you slice it, continued strong insider buying as we come to the close of the trading year is bullish. Readers may want to check their portfolios to see if any of these top stocks are among the current holdings.