5 Recent CFO Buys of More Than $50,000

Includes: BKH, CHK, GSB, KOG, VRX
by: The Keating Letter

Insider buying can often be an indicator of stock gains to come. While many investors look at any insiders, often including directors, I prefer to focus on CEOs and CFOs. Those two individuals should have the best view on how well their company is doing and what potential catalysts may be coming.

Like any indicator, insider buying isn’t foolproof, and this collection of companies should be used as a reason to do more research. A list like this should make you take a second look at the company, though, and ask yourself why this insider is willing to make a significant investment. Is something going on in the company that we don’t know about? You may also be interested in reading my article about CEO buys from a few days ago. You can find that here: Insider Buying: 8 Recent CEO Buys of More than $100,000.

Following are five companies with recent CFO buys of at least $50,000:

Black Hills Corp. (NYSE:BKH) is a diversified energy company that owns utilities, an energy trading arm, a coal mine, and an oil and gas exploration subsidiary, among other things. It’s throwing off a 5% dividend, but currently sports a rich P/E ratio of about 18. CFO Michael Cleberg is a regular buyer, and he picked up another 1,860 shares on June 10. His purchase totaled $53,500. Last time I wrote about Black Hills, I noted that well-known value investor Mario Gabelli owned a substantial part of the company. He’s since dramatically cut his holdings.

Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) is famous for a variety of reasons, and not all good. CEO Aubrey McClendon is a perfect example of the dangers of blindly following insider buys. A few years ago he bought a tremendous amount of Chesapeake Energy stock, and he bought most of it on margin. Fairly soon afterwards, the price of natural gas plummeted and the company was exposed for having terrible accountability to shareholders. The company made McClendon a huge personal loan and even bought his vintage map collection. Then Carl Icahn came along and accountability improved. Icahn has substantially trimmed his holdings, but here’s hoping things at Chesapeake Energy don’t go the same route they did in 2008. And here’s hoping someone at the company gets rid of those maps. CFO Domenic Dell’Osso bought 4,000 shares on June 10 for $29.40 per share. In total he owns just under 175,000 shares.

GlobalSCAPE (NYSEMKT:GSB): GlobalSCAPE CFO Thomas Hawkins bought 25,000 shares on June 9 for a total purchase of $50,800. The company is a tiny $38 million market cap that bills itself as a “global provider of managed file and wide area file services solutions.” Hawkins took over as CFO on May 16.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX): Philip Loberg is currently the acting CFO as well as being a member of the board. He purchased 7,500 shares on June 9 for a total purchase of $396,150. Loberg bought shares ahead of an expected FDA decision on an epileptic seizure drug, Potiga. This drug was approved for limited use on June 13. Valient is a favorite among some large investors. The stock makes up at least 4% of the portfolios of Ruane Cunniff, Glenn Greenberg, Julian Robertson, and Francis Chou.

Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE:KOG) is an oil and natural gas explorer that sports a $1 billion market cap. It was the recipient of a bullish article on Seeking Alpha in February: Kodiak Oil and Gas: Exponential Production Growth. Just recently it adjusted its production outlook for 2011 and decreased it from the lower end of 5,500 to 6,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOE/d) to 4,500 to 5,000 BOE/d. This decrease was blamed on adverse weather conditions. In that release, it also increased its estimate of the number of wells drilled for the year to 42 from 38. CFO James Henderson purchased $100,000 of company stock on June 7. His average purchase price was $6.08, $0.40 higher than yesterday’s price. Henderson owns a total of 56,450 shares.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.