Massive Bill Ackman Trade Highlights Insider Selling: Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Starbucks, Schlumberger, Validus and More

Like every week since the election, the markets ended higher, and investors look to finish 2016 with some solid gains. While we have seen insider selling volumes pick up some, none of it looks that far out of the normal ranges we generally see, and that’s a positive when the markets are hitting and staying near all-time highs.

We cover insider selling every week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind readers that just because an individual 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 sell just to diversify portfolios or purchase other assets.

Also check out our look at recent insider buying at Transdigm, Medicines Company, W&T Offshore and more.

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

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) had a huge seller on the desk last week. Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital hedge fund, which is a director and a 10% owner of the company, sold a gigantic block of 3,476,690 shares of the stock at $14.85 apiece. The total for the sale was posted at a stunning $52 million. Valeant develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, over-the-counter products and medical devices worldwide. Its shares closed Friday at $14.10.

Validus Holdings Inc. (NYSE: VR) had the CEO at the company selling stock last week. Edward Noonan parted with a total of 273,000 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $55.04 to $56.16. The total for the trade was set right at $15 million. The company provides reinsurance coverage, insurance coverage and insurance-linked securities management services worldwide. The shares closed on Friday at $52.86, so good timing indeed.

Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) had the treasurer at the oil services giant selling shares last week. The executive sold a total of 134,091 shares at $86.35 per share. The total for the trade was set at $12 million. The stock closed Friday at $85.50, so the timing looks solid.

Spark Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ONCE) had a director at the company shrinking a stake. The director parted with a total of 100,251 shares at a share price of $55.58. The total for the sale was posted at $6 million. The company focuses on the development of gene therapy products for patients suffering from debilitating genetic diseases. The stock closed last Friday at $53.01, so again the timing looks good.

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) saw a unit president at the coffee chain selling stock last week. That executive sold a block of 80,000 shares at prices between $58.71 and $59.01 apiece. The total for the trade was $4 million. Starbucks closed trading last Friday at $57.66.

These companies also reported insider selling last week: AerCap Holdings N.V. (NYSE: AER), Arch Capital Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: ACGL), Hilton Hotels Inc. (NYSE: HLT), Insperity Inc. (NYSE: NSP), Tyler Technologies Inc. (NYSE: TYL) and Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO).

While the selling was robust, it certainly wasn’t extraordinary, and it should be expected given the big run in the markets this year. With fourth-quarter earnings right around the corner, we may see windows for insider transactions start to close.

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