Investing

Insider Selling at Highest Levels in Months as Earnings Wind Down

It was just a matter of time, and we expected it, but the insiders must have been chomping at the bit as earnings season finally started to wind down and the windows for executives and 10% owners to sell opened back up. Like we mentioned during the second-quarter earnings season in July, all corporations stop insider transactions around the reporting date to avoid the look of any impropriety, and they appear to be opening back up with a vengeance.

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

Here are some of the companies that reported notable insider selling this week.

ServiceNow Inc. (NYSE: NOW) had a director back the truck up and unload a huge pile of stock. That director sold a massive 334,475 shares of the stock at a price of $77.94 per share. The total for this huge sale was $26.1 million. The company provides cloud-based solutions that define, structure, manage and automate services to enterprise operations in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Asia-Pacific and elsewhere. The stock was trading on Friday’s close at $76.95, so a well-timed sale.

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Charles Schwab Corp. (NYSE: SCHW) had the venerable founder and chairman of the board selling stock again, as he did quite a bit earlier this year. Combined with another director, the pair sold a total of 635,000 shares at prices between $34.79 and $34.94 apiece. The total for that sale came to $22.1 million. In a separate filing Mr. Schwab sold an additional 250,000 shares at $35.14 for another $8.8 million. Dismayed investors should remember that Schwab is now 78 years old and could be selling some of his huge position for estate planning reasons. The stock closed trading Friday at $35.03 and has had an outstanding year.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) had the man at the top selling stock this past week. CEO Richard Fain parted with a total of 151,032 shares at $90.38 apiece. That netted him about $13.7 million. The shares were at $91.19 as trading ended on Friday. This is another stock that has had a good year.

Marketo Inc. (NASDAQ: MKTO) had a director at the company selling stock last week. That director sold a block of 350,000 shares at $29.55, and the total for the sale came to $10.3 million. The company provides a cloud-based marketing software platform that enables organizations to engage in relationship marketing in the United States. The stock ended the week at $29.13.

GoPro Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) is another hot tech stock that has been on a roll, and a director at the company took advantage of it. That director, on behalf of Sageview Capital, sold a block of 150,000 shares of the stock at a price of $64.22. The total for the trade came to $9.6 million. The stock closed trading Friday at $63.06, so a well-timed sale.

These companies also reported insider selling this week: Celgene Inc. (NASDAQ: CELG), Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON), Masco Corp. (NYSE: MAS) and Under Armour Inc. (NYSE: UA).

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While the volume of sales jumped dramatically this week, none of it appeared out of the ordinary. Most of the companies that were reporting sales have had very solid years, and so insider selling is no surprise.