Massive Market Sell-Off Has Energy Insiders Buying: Crestwood Equity Partners, Phillips 66, Summit Midstream Partners and More

In what was clearly a week that investors would like to forget, the market was absolutely crushed under the weight of major items that all took place outside the United States. Between the China market meltdown, North Korean nuclear activity and continued belligerence between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the table was set for the worst selling since last September. One group of investors who welcomed the sell-off was insiders at energy and energy-related companies.

We cover insider buying every week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind readers that while insider buying is usually a very positive sign, it is not in of itself a reason to run out and buy a stock. Sometimes insiders and 10% owners have stock purchase plans set up at intervals to add to their holdings. That aside, it still remains a positive indicator.

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

Crestwood Equity Partners L.P. (NYSE: CEQP) had insider buying for the third time in the past month. This time, a director at the company acquired a staggering 542,153 shares at between $20.30 and $20.80 apiece. The total for that buy was a solid $11.2 million. The company provides midstream solutions to customers in the crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids sectors of the energy industry in the United States. The shares were trading on Friday’s close at $17.31.

Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX) had a big time buyer on the desk this past week. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway was busy purchasing 48,272 shares of the company at prices between $79.37 and $80.18 per share. The total for the trade came to $3.9 million. Phillips 66 operates as an energy manufacturing and logistics company. Its stock was changing hands at $75.21 on Friday’s close.

Layne Christensen Co.

(NASDAQ: LAYN) also returned to our 24/7 Wall St. insider screens for the third time in the past month. A director bought a sizable block of 289,191 shares of the stock at $5.25 apiece, for a total cost of $1.5 million. Another director at the company bought 96,748 shares at between $5.20 and $5.23 per share. The total for this buy was $500,000. The company provides water management, construction and drilling services in North America and internationally. Its shares ended last week at $4.86.

Summit Midstream Partners L.P. (NYSE: SMLP) is yet another energy company that saw an insider buying shares. A director picked up 144,954 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $18.43 to $18.64. The total for the trade came to a sizable $2.7 million. The company focuses on owning, developing and operating midstream energy infrastructure assets primarily at shale formations in North America. It provides natural gas gathering, treating and processing services. The shares traded at $17.99 as Friday’s session came to a close.

Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) is not an energy stock but it hit our screens in a big way last week and has seen extensive insider buying over the past year. A director at the iconic U.S. retailer scooped up a whopping 367,700 shares at prices that fell between $20.24 and $20.62. That cost him some $7.6 million. The stock closed on Friday at $18.03.

These companies also reported insider buying this week: Actuant Corp. (NYSE: ATU), Biglari Holdings Inc. (NYSE: BH), Bob Evans Farms Inc. (NASDAQ: BOBE), Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) and Lands’ End Inc. (NASDAQ: LE).

Clearly the amount of buying into the astonishing weakness is very bullish. The large number of energy trades seen this week as oil is beaten down to 12-year lows signals that insiders are anxious to own shares at current levels, another very positive sign. It’s also a very welcome indicator for current energy shareholders.