Investing

Insider Selling Picks Up as Market Volatility Starts to Jump

As we expected, with the earnings reporting season all but over for this quarter, more and more windows appear to be opening for insiders looking to sell positions. Combine that with a market that has gyrated wildly over the past week, and you have a recipe for selling. While the selling that was reported this week was consistent with what we have seen so far in March, nothing indicates a mass exodus for shareholders at this point.

We cover insider selling each week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind readers that the mere fact insiders are selling stock is no reason to panic. Many corporate directors and executives are compensated with stock or stock options. They can end up overweighted in the stock of their companies, and selling is often just a way to diversify assets.

Here are this past week’s top reported insider selling transactions.

Stryker Corp. (NYSE: SYK) saw a director sell a large 400,000 share block of the company stock. That director parted with the stock at $90.59 a share, for a total sale of a whopping $36.2 million. Stryker operates as a medical technology company through three segments: Orthopaedics, MedSurg and Neurotechnology and Spine. The stock closed trading on Friday at $91.29, so some cash was left on the table.

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Diamondback Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FANG) had a 10% owner come back to the desk and sell stock again this week. Wexford Capital sold an additional 300,000 shares of the stock at $71.46 apiece. The total of the sale came to around $21.4 million. Again, while still holding a large position, clearly Wexford is thinning the herd. Shares ended the week at $69.68, so a well-timed sale.

WisdomTree Investments Inc. (NASDAQ: WETF) had a director decided to sell a big block of stock this week. That director shed 217,816 shares at $20.24 apiece. The total of the sale came to a tidy $4.4 million. The company operates as an exchange-traded funds (ETFs) sponsor and asset manager. It offers ETFs in equities, currency, fixed income and alternatives asset classes. Shares of the stock were trading on Friday’s close at $21.17.

Lamar Advertising Co. (NASDAQ: LAMR) saw a director at the company sell a block of 81,526 shares this past week. At $57.32 apiece, the total sale came to more than $4.6 million. The firm primarily engages in selling advertising space on billboards, buses, shelters, benches and logo plates. The stock closed trading Friday at $57.88.

Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) has had an outstanding run over the past year, and the CEO felt it was time to part with some stock. Robert Niblock sold a block of 50,730 shares of the home improvement retailer at $74.64. The total of the sale came to $3.8 million. Lowe’s shares ended trading on Friday at $74.16, so a well-timed sale.

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These companies also reported insider selling last week: Boston Beer Co. Inc. (NYSE: SAM), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), EnviroStar Inc. (NYSE: EVI), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: SLXP).

While the selling is consistent, that should not be a surprise as the stock market still hovers near all-time highs. We are keeping an eye on the stocks that are seeing institutional selling on a consistent basis.