Why Are So Many Insiders and Institutions Buying Up Regional Bank Stocks?

Regional banks stocks are displaying some intriguing behavior in the last week. On one hand, the SPDR S&P Regional Banking ETF (US:KRE) extended its year-to-date decline, adding another 7.6% to that down move. The KBW Regional Banking Index is down about 30% since March 8.

On the other hand, data compiled by Fintel shows that insiders were busy buying up their individual bank shares during the week that ended on May 12.

Of course it’s not lost on us that over the last two months, there has been a great deal of concern about the outlook of U.S. regional banks and worries that their deposit outflows and balance sheet issues could cause problems for U.S. equities and for the American economy.

But maybe those insiders’ purchases of several regional bank stocks could indicate that these fears are overdone.

As Bloomberg Intelligence’s Senior Industry Analyst Herman Chan and Associate Analyst Sergio Ferreira wrote last week,  “perceived weakness can become reality as market dynamics pressure regional banks despite fundamentals that may not necessarily warrant such a visceral response.”

What Insiders are Buying

Three insider purchases at West Virginia-based  WesBanco (US:WSBC) totaled $686,815 of the company’s shares, while two insider purchases at Indiana’s LakeLand Financial (US:LKFN) were worth $508,004. One insider at U.S. Bancorp (US:USB), one of the largest regional banks based in Minnesota, obtained $497,495 of USB stock.

Meanwhile, one insider bought $481,536 of the shares of Texas regional bank First Financial Bankshares (US:FFIN), while five insider purchases were made of shares of another Texas-based regional bank, Third Coast Bankshares (US:TCBX), worth $412,716.

Two insiders connected with Washington Federal (US:WAFD) obtained $385,206 of its stock in three deals, and there were two purchases  of Georgia-based Ameris Bancorp’s (US:ABCB) by insiders for $321,580. Of note, also, is that Seattle-based WAFD stock announced a cash dividend of 25 cents per share with an ex-dividend date of May 18.

The insiders of a number of other regional banks bought less than $300,000 of their institutions’ shares last week.

Institutions Pour In

Although many institutions were selling large amounts of regional bank stocks during the end of last week, some institutions did spend significant funds on purchasing one of the most widely discussed names, PacWest (US:PACW),  within the sector during that period. All of the information below is derived from Fintel data.

The State of Tennessee reported on May 12 that it had bought 74,640 shares of PacWest, while Prudential  scooped up 876,444 shares and Dimensional Fund Advisors acquired 308,000 shares.  Also on May 12, Charles Schwab (US:SCHW) bought 67,500 shares of PACW.

Those buys came as the West Coast regional bank revealed that customers pulled 9.5% of its total deposits after First Republic failed on May 1.

As noted above, a single insider acquired almost $500,000 worth of USB stock. They were joined by a number of institutional investors last week. On May 12, Neuberger Berman reported having bought 1.85 million shares of USB, while CIBC World Markets on the same day disclosed a purchase of 11,573 shares of the regional bank. Finally, Stifel Financial (US:SF), also on May 12, disclosed that it had acquired 478,125 shares of USB.

USB is one of the largest regional banks in the U.S., as the firm is the nation’s fifth-largest bank overall.

In March, during the beginning of the regional bank mini-crisis, the bank reported that it was “adding new accounts and new customers every day.” Moreover, investment bank Stifel at the time called USB a “high-quality regional bank with little to no downside and ~50% upside over time.”

This article originally appeared on Fintel

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