Gigantic Insurance and Financial Trades Highlight Insider Selling: Ameriprise, Harley Davidson, Validus and More

Despite a slow Friday, it was another solid week for the markets, and insiders continue to sell shares steadily. While the volume has dropped from what we saw over the past two weeks, the selling pace has remained intact. With the earnings season over and investors getting a glimpse at what the rest of the quarter and year look like, most of the prognostications remain bullish. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see selling resume, especially if the markets correct.

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 last week.

Insurance giant Validus Holdings Ltd. (NYSE: VR) had a director at the firm make a massive sale last week. That director sold a total of 411,173 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $57.18 to $57.57. The total for the sale was a stunning $24 million. The shares closed last Friday at $58.33, so very close to a top-tick sale. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $44.23 to $58.76. The Wall Street consensus price target is $57.88.

Another director, this one at Tyler Technologies Inc. (NYSE: TYL), was also busy selling stock last week. That director parted with a total of 71,147 shares of the integrated information management solutions provider at prices that ranged from $155.32 to $156.42 a share. The total for the sale was set at $11 million. The stock closed Friday at $154.05, so a well-timed sale. The 52-week range is $118.16 to $175.17, and the consensus price target is $180.09.

Selling Ameriprise Financial Inc. (NYSE: AMP) stock last week was CEO James Cracchiolo. He shed a total of 54,110 share of the financial services stock at prices between $123.45 and $124.51 per share. The total for the sale was posted at $7 million. The stock closed last Friday at $128.99 a share, so some money appears to be left on the table. The 52-week range is $80.39 to $129.27. The consensus price objective is 136.89.

Venerable U.S. motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) also had a board member trimming a stake last week. A director at the legendary company sold 100,000 shares at prices that ranged from $56.74 to $57.15. The total for the sale was set right at $6 million. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $40.91 to $62.35. The consensus price target is $57.29, and the shares ended the day last Friday at $56.93.

Lincoln National Corp. (NYSE: LNC) also had the man at the top selling stock last week. Dennis Glass, the CEO of this insurance and retirement focused company, sold a block of 75,000 shares at between $71.00 and $71.28 apiece. The total for the sale was posted at $5 million. Shares closed Friday at $71.69, in a 52-week range of $34.16 to $73.71. The consensus price target is $73.17.

These companies also reported insider selling last week: Blackrock Inc. (NYSE: BLK), Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE: BX), Heartland Express Inc. (NASDAQ: HTLD), MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: MXTX) and Stifel Financial Corp. (NYSE: SF).

While the selling volume is strong, none of the trades look like desperation sales. Many of the companies are trading at or near their 52-weeks highs, and selling at the top is no surprise.