Does Insider Buying at IBM Mask Its Poor Performance Enough?

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It’s nothing new to track insider buying and selling when corporate managers are active in the shares of the companies they run. There are many reasons an insider would sell a stock, but when they buy their own shares in the open market there is generally one reason: they think the market is not reflecting the real potential of the company.

So what happens after a massive slide in International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and insiders have started buying the stock?

IBM shares were up 4% at $120.30 on Monday after SEC filings showed that corporate insiders were buying up the shares after a huge drop. The $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) added more pressure on top of IBM’s earnings. IBM was north of $150 as recently as October 5, but last week Big Blue shares briefly traded under $115.

As far as the insider buying, several purchases were worth noting. The real question to ask is if insider buying alone is enough to mask all of IBM’s problems and that it overpaid to become a hybrid cloud leader and as it struggles to shake off the old IT-services unit’s dominance on its revenues.

The chief executive and board chair, Ginni Rometty, bought 8,500 shares at an average price of $117.51 on November 2, with a total spend of more than $998,000 this time around. She was shown in SEC filings to hold 11,368 direct shares and has 240,531 in indirect shares (options or trusts).

Director Frederick Waddell bought 2,153 shares at an average of $115.99 on November 1. That’s almost $250,000 worth of shares bought. His trust now owns 2,763 shares.

Director Joseph Swedish bought 2,000 shares at an average of $116.42 on November 1. That was over $232,000 worth of stock. His trust now holds 3,261 shares of IBM.

Two other insider purchases were seen last week:

  • Sidney Taurel (director) bought 4,311 shares at $115.02 apiece on October 31 for almost $496,000 in aggregate.
  • James Owens (director) bought 1,000 shares at $115.02 apiece on October 31 for almost $114,673 in aggregate.

With IBM shares back up to about $120 per share, its 52-week range is $114.09 to $171.13. The prior consensus analyst target price from Thomson Reuters was last seen at $155.94.