Huge Retail Trade Highlights Slowing Insider Selling: Costco, Pool, Ulta Beauty, Isle of Capri, Vector Group and More

After a wild quarter, which saw some huge insider selling with the market constantly hitting all-time highs, it closed Friday with very light insider action last week. We attribute much of the slow down to the fact that insiders windows for transactions are probably closing fast as first-quarter earnings are due to start this coming week. While there was still some trading, the big numbers and volumes really slowed.

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:

A director at retail giant Costco Wholesale Corp. (NASDAQ: COST) was selling shares this past week. That board member sold a 100,000 share block of the stock at prices that ranged from $166.00 to $167.25 a share. The total for the trade was posted at $17 million. The shares closed last Friday at $167.69. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $138.57 to $178.71. The Wall Street consensus price target is $181.83.

Pool Corp. (NASDAQ: POOL) had the chairman of the board, who is retiring when his term ends, selling shares this week. Wilson Sexton parted with 50,000 shares at prices that ranged from $119.00 to $120.02 apiece. The total for the trade was set at $6 million. Shares closed Friday at $119.13, so a well-timed retirement trade indeed. The 52-week trading range is $85.89 to $121.31, and the consensus price target is $124.40.

In the past week, Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (NASDAQ: ISLE) had its chief administrative office and a director selling some stock. The pair sold a total of 135,135 shares at between $25.50 and $26.05 apiece. The total for the sales was set at $3 million. Shares closed on Friday at $26.36, way above the consensus price objective of $23. The 52-week trading range is $13.84 to $26.89.

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics and Fragrances Inc. (NASDAQ: ULTA) returns to our screens as a director at the company shed 6,400 shares at a price of $281.52 per share. The total for the sale was set right at $2 million. Shares closed right near the yearly high at $285.23. The 52-week trading range is $191.37 to $289.27, and the consensus price target is $303.85.

Cigarette maker Vector Group Ltd. (NYSE: VGR) also had a board member selling stock last week. That director sold 100,000 shares. At share prices that ranged from $19.96 to $20.21, the total for the sale was $2 million. The shares closed last Friday at $20.80, in a 52-week trading range of $19.23 to $23.34.

These companies also reported insider selling last week: Francesca’s Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: FRAN), Henry Schein Inc. (NASDAQ: HSIC), Lamar Advertising Co. (NASDAQ: LAMR) and Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST).

With earnings firing up, we anticipate a slow April for insider activity, but if the market continues to stay solid, that activity probably will get real hot again as we move toward the late spring and summer months.

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