Once again last week the market was hitting all-time highs, and once again insiders were selling shares at a furious pace. Who can blame them? While the outlook for 2017 is bright, and President Trump is signaling that positives like tax cuts are on the horizon, the bottom line is stock prices are sky-high and insiders know it.
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.
Here are companies that reported notable insider selling this past week.
Hedge Fund Value Act was a huge technology seller this past week. It parted with an 11 million share block of Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). The shares were priced between $63.12 and $63.77 apiece, and the total for the sale was an incredible $697 million. The shares closed last Friday at $64.00. The 52-week trading range for the software and cloud giant is $48.04 to $65.91. The Wall Street consensus price target for the stock is $68.97.
One of the top executives at Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) was selling stock this past week. The president of the search leader, Brin Sergey, sold three blocks of shares during the week that totaled 100,000, at prices that ranged from $809.40 to $820.08 per share. The total for the three sales came to a monstrous $81,580,476. Note that the shares traded on Friday’s close at $834.85. The 52-week range is $672.66 to $867.00, and the consensus price objective is $990.72.
A co-chief executive officer of American Financial Group Inc. (NYSE: AFG), Carl Linder, sold a total of 200,000 shares of the property and casualty insurance products provider at prices that ranged from $90.63 to $91.62. The total for the sale was set at $18 million. The shares closed Friday at $91.55, in a 52-week range of $65.38 to $92.38. The consensus price target is $95.50.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is another mega-cap tech leader that had an executive selling shares last week. A senior vice president at the company shed a block of 75,000 shares at between $128.01 and $128.59 apiece. The total for the sale was posted at $10 million. The 52-week range for Apple shares is $89.47 to $132.94, and the stock ended last week near that all-time high, at $132.12.
The chief operating officer at Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), Brian Crutcher, was another tech executive surrendering shares last week. He sold a total of 42,550 shares of the resurgent old-school chip company at prices between $76.21 and $76.32. The total for his sale was set at $3 million. The shares were last seen at $75.16, so a well-timed trade, it seems. The 52-week range is $49.99 to $79.47, and the consensus price target is $81.46.
These companies also reported insider selling last week: BlackRock Inc. (NYSE: BLK), Boston Scientific Corp. (NYSE: BSX), Leggett & Platt Inc. (NYSE: LEG), Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE: VGR) and Western Alliance Bancorp. (NYSE: WAL).
The insider selling volume has dwarfed the insider buying volume for some time, and last week was no exception. While it is very understandable, given the huge run in the markets, it also could be a warning sign for investors.