Large Media Trade Highlights Recent Insider Selling

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In a week that saw big up and down swings, there weren’t really many insiders lining up to sell stock. That is a change from what we saw over the past month, as insiders unloaded large amounts of stock. With the actual start of summer right around the corner, we may even see more of a slowdown as vacation time kicks in.

We cover insider selling every week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to always remind our readers that just because an individual or 10% institutional owner is selling stock, that is no cause for immediate alarm. Many top executives and even director are compensated with stock, and often they sell just to diversify or purchase other assets.

Here are companies that reported notable insider selling this past week.

Graham Holdings Co. (NYSE: GHC) saw the biggest insider trade this past week when a 10% owner of the company sold shares. The man with his name on the door, Donald Graham, sold 11,598 shares of the thinly traded stock at prices that fell between $1,070.35 and $1,071.10 per share. The total for the sale came to $12.4 million. The principal operations of this diversified education and media company include educational services, television broadcasting, cable systems and online services, as well as print and local TV news. Shares were trading at $1,068.70 on Friday’s close.

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Boston Properties Inc. (NYSE: BXP) had an executive vice president of the company sell a block of 50,000 shares last week at $127.57. The total for the sale came to a very tidy $6.4 million. After a large run, this big real estate investment trust (REIT) has run into trouble since March. One would suspect that many institutional holders may be selling stock in anticipation of rising interest rates. REITs typically do not perform well in that environment. Shares ended trading on Friday at $126.10.

On Assignment Inc. (NYSE: ASGN) saw a director of the company selling stock in a big way last week. Edwin Sheridan sold a block of 161,168 shares at prices that ranged from $37.80 to $38.76. The total for the sale came to $6.2 million. On Assignment provides short-term and long-term placement of contract, contract-to-hire and direct hire professionals in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The stock closed trading on Friday at $39.01.

Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) had a director at the biotech selling stock this past week. Rajiv Modi has been selling big blocks of the stock over the past month, and he continues to unload shares. This week he sold 551,081 shares of the stock at $8.93 to $9.01 apiece. The total for the sale came to $4.9 million. The stock closed trading on Friday at $8.91.

Splunk Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLK) saw the chief executive sell shares of the stock last week. Godfrey Sullivan parted with 17,790 shares at prices that ranged from $68.10 to $68.81. The total of the sale came to $2.3 million. Splunk provides software products that enable organizations to gain real-time operational intelligence in the United States and internationally. The company’s products enable users to collect, index, search, explore, monitor and analyze data regardless of format or source users. Shares have been on a roll, and selling shouldn’t be a surprise. The stock ended the week at $68.92.

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These companies also reported insider selling this week: Equinix Inc. (NASDAQ: EQIX), Intel Inc. (NASDAQ: INTC), Monro Muffler Brake Inc. (NASDAQ: MNRO) and Orbital ATK Inc. (NYSE: OA).

Limited insider selling this week does come on the heel of weeks of much higher volume selling. All in all, insiders certainly do not look panicked to sell shares, and that is a positive.