American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) has had a rough performance despite many airline metrics being solid. It seems that the global slowing and recent weak consumer data is trumping the benefits that the airline industry is likely to rejoice as oil prices have rapidly slid back down toward $50 per barrel.
If one thing might get investors excited, outside of earnings news or other traditional positive corporate announcements around dividends or buybacks, it is when insiders buy shares of their employers’ stock on the open market. There might be a few dozen reasons insiders sell shares they own, just like you and me needing cash. When insiders buy shares with their own money on the open market it is frequently deemed to mean they think the shares are cheap, oversold or have serious upside ahead.
With shares approaching a three-year low, and down about 9% so far in 2019 and down about one-third from this time in 2018, multiple insiders at American Airlines have bought the stock in recent days. The total tally was about $2.4 million spent on those shares.
Chair and CEO Douglas Parker purchased 50,000 shares of American Airlines at an average share price of $28.09 for roughly $1.404 million on June 4. His beneficial stake is now roughly 2.201 million shares. He is compensated in stock rather than cash, and this appears to be his first open market transaction.
American Airlines President Robert Isom purchased 15,000 shares at an average of $27.75 apiece, for a total spend of about $416,250. His direct stake is now listed as 768,771 shares.
Derek Kerr, chief financial officer, purchased 5,000 shares at $27.76, for a sum of $138,820, on June 4, and that takes his stake up to 465,697 direct shares and 50,000 indirect shares.
Company Vice President Elise Eberwein purchased 5,000 shares at $27.76, for a sum of $138,820, on June 4 as well, and that takes her stake up to 399,019 direct shares.
Vice President Maya Leibman bought 5,000 shares at $27.63, for a total of $138,150. That takes her stake up to 249.248 direct shares and 1,038 indirect shares.
Vice President Stephen Johnson also picked up 5,000 shares. At $27.72 per share, that totaled $138,582. That took his stake up to 622,580 direct shares.
All in all, that adds up to almost $2.4 million spent by insiders to buy shares of American Airlines. While that may not be massive compared to founding CEO billionaires, this is a solid financial commitment by management after a period in which the share price has fallen handily from the old highs.
Also note that Berkshire Hathaway’s latest holdings showed that Warren Buffett’s team owned a slightly smaller stake of American Airlines Group than in the past. As of March 31, 2019, entities associated with Berkshire Hathaway owned about 43.7 million shares. This was the same as December 31, 2018, but was a smaller stake than the 44.7 million shares owned as of September 30, 2018.
Shares of American Airlines traded up 3.3% at $30.10 midday Wednesday, in a 52-week trading range of $27.02 to $44.93. The consensus target price from Refinitiv was at $42.22.