Massive Biotech and Bill Gates Trades Highlight Insider Buying: Seattle Genetics, Ecolab, Sarepta Therapeutics and More

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After a week when the indexes finally fought their way back to even for 2016, one probably would think that insiders would be selling the huge rally. Just the opposite happened, and while there was insider selling, the buyers dominated our screens as they dominated the action. That is a very positive overall sign for the markets in general, given the bearishness that has been present for months.

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 week.

Seattle Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ: SGEN) had one of the biggest biopharmaceutical funds buying even more shares of the stock this past week. The Baker Brothers added a total of 1,349,237 shares at prices between $31.77 and $33.77 per share. The total for that buy was a very impressive $43 million. Earlier in the week, the company bought an additional 694,666 shares at prices between $32.03 and $33.10 at a cost of $23 million. Seattle Genetics is a biotechnology company that develops and commercializes antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer. The stock closed Friday at $33.92.

Ecolab Inc. (NYSE: ECL) had a big name buyer last week. Microsoft founder Bill Gates’s Cascade Investments, which is a 10% owner of the company, bought a whopping 499.999 shares at prices that ranged from $104.59 to $105.43. The total for the purchase came to a huge $53 million. The company provides water, hygiene and energy technologies and services for customers worldwide. The stock closed trading on Friday at $108.14, so the timing looks good.


Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: AQXP) is another company the Baker Brothers were buying this past week, and it was already a 10% holder of the shares. The fund picked up an additional 471,667 shares at between $7.98 and $8.00 apiece. The total for the trade came to $4 million. This clinical-stage pharmaceutical company engages in discovering and developing targeted therapeutics for diseases in the areas of inflammation and immuno-oncology. It primarily focuses on anti-inflammatory product candidates targeting SHIP1, a key regulator of a cellular signaling pathway in immune cells. The stock ended last week at $8.32.

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SRPT) saw three directors at the company purchasing shares this past week. The trio bought a total of 154,500 shares. Prices ranged from $14.54 to $16.54 per share, and the total for the trades came to $2.5 million. This biopharmaceutical company focuses on the discovery and development of RNA-based therapeutics for the treatment of rare, infectious and other diseases. Shares closed the day on Friday at $18.00, so again, well-timed buys.

Itron Inc. (NASDAQ: ITRI) had a 10% owner adding to a position this week. Scopia Capital bought a total of 82,234 shares of the stock at prices between $40.37 and $43.05. The total for the buy came to $3.5 million. The company provides metering solutions to electricity, gas and water utility markets worldwide. It offers standard electromechanical and electronic, gas and water and heat meters, as well as advanced and smart electricity, gas and water meters and communication modules. The stock ended on Friday at $42.26.

These companies also reported insider buying this week: Flamel Technologies S.A. (NASDAQ: FLML), Flex Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: FLKS), Leucadia National Corp. (NYSE: LUK), Mosaic Co. (NYSE: MOS) and Tempur Sealy International Inc. (NYSE: TPX).

Again, the strong buying into a big market rally can only be seen as a positive. While 2016 could again prove to be a volatile year, if insiders like their shares at this level, we could have a move higher as the spring rolls in.