As we approach the earnings releases for the first quarter, we are seeing an increase in the insider selling activity. The reason could be many insiders have selling windows closed during earnings reporting season, and often that can last as long as two months. With that in mind, the volume and the share counts are starting to pick up.
We cover insider selling each week at 24/7 Wall St., and as a reminder, if you happen to see a stock you own listed with insider activity there is no reason to be immediately concerned. Many executives and 10% owners are either overweighted to company shares, or they have been invested for years, sometimes since before the initial public offering, and are ready to cash out and have a return of capital. We carefully watch for insiders selling on what could be a sinking ship.
Here are companies that reported notable insider selling this week:
Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ICPT) had a director, Orbimed Advisors, continue to sell stock at a furious pace. The health care-dedicated investment firm, with approximately $5 billion in assets under management, sold a massive block of 157,000 shares of the stock at $286.75. The total for the sale came to a whopping $45.08 million. The shares closed Thursday at $271.61.
Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) saw an executive vice president at the giant retailer sell stock this week. A block of 155,000 shares of the company’s stock was sold at prices that ranged from $80.62 to $81.52. The total of the sale came to a very tidy $12.55 million. Target shares closed Thursday at $82.67.
Kite Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: KITE) is a biotech company that saw big insider action this week. A director at the company sold 194,000 shares of the stock at prices from $59.91 to $61.24. The total for the sale was a solid $11.71 million. The stock traded on Thursday’s close at $53.95, down 3.1%. Since peaking at almost $90 in January, the stock has acted horrible. Shareholders may want to revisit investment thesis if directors are selling here.
Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) has had a strong run over the past 18 months, so big insider selling here is no surprise. A senior executive vice president at the company sold a huge block of 200,000 shares of the stock, at prices that ranged from $107.43 to $108.49. The total of the sale was a gigantic $21.59 million. Two executive vice presidents at the health care giant also sold stock this week. They parted with a total of 78,000 shares at prices that ranged from $106.04 to $107.24. That sale came to a total of $8.29 million. Shares closed most recently at $107.15.
Cheniere Energy Inc. (NYSE: LNG) had the company’s CEO selling stock this week. Charif Souki sold a block of 100,000 shares at $79.02. The total sale came to $7.9 million. Cheniere is a liquid natural gas company that has not witnessed the horrible downturn many energy companies focused on oil have. So this selling is not a surprise. The stock ended the week at $79.78.
These companies also reported insider selling this week: Analog Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ADI), EQT Corp. (NYSE: EQT), Range Resources Corp. (NYSE: RRC), Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) and Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL).
Sales volume has picked up, and with earnings literally right around the corner, we could see some sizable selling again next week.