Insiders bought and sold $186 million of stock in the finance sector and $6 million of stock in the utility sector, accounting for 11.0% and 0.3% of the total of $1.70 billion worth of stocks traded (including $1.52 billion sold and $0.18 billion bought) via almost 1,800 separate insider transactions last week. We culled through those 1,800 or so insider buys and sells in over 850 different companies (based on last week’s SEC Forms 3, 4, and 5 filings), as part of our weekly coverage of insider trades, and present here the most notable trades in the finance and utility sectors last week:
Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL): XEL is engaged in the generation, purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity to residential, commercial and industrial customers, as well as to public authorities in the U.S. Insiders currently hold 2.3 million shares or 0.5% of outstanding shares. Last week, Sr. VP & General Counsel Scott Wilensky sold 16,800 shares (regular sale) for $0.44 million, ending the week with 14,564 shares. This is in addition to the selling we reported just last week of 29,000 shares by Chairman and CEO Benjamin Fowke, so that insiders in total sold 87,100 shares during November. This is significant in that the last time insiders sold shares in XEL prior to the selling in November was in December 2009. XEL shares have been very strong recently, rising over 50% since the lows in 2008/09, up over four-fold since 2002, and approaching the all-time highs set in 2000, so the bout of insider selling is significant as it can be interpreted that insiders are not confident that the stock will break above those highs anytime soon.
Schwab Charles Corp. (NYSE:SCHW): SCHW provides brokerage, banking, and financial services to individual and institutional clients. Insiders currently hold 11.2 million shares or 1.0% of outstanding shares. During the last week, Director Roger Walther bought 1,500 shares. Although a minor buy, it is significant in that it is the first insider buy at SCHW in over a year. Also, SCHW shares are currently trading at six-year lows, weak along with the rest of the financial sector, and this insider purchase (although small) gives an indication that at least one insider sees value in SCHW shares at these levels.
Visa Inc. (NYSE:V): V provides a global retail electronic payments network in support of the credit and debit payment programs of financial institutions. Insiders currently hold 0.7 million shares or 0.1% of outstanding shares. During the last week, three insiders (two Presidents and the General Counsel) sold a total of 33,026 shares for $3.2 million, of which just under half were ‘automatic sells’ under 10b5-1 plans. The insider trades are significant given their size, as well as given that they represent a significant portion of the holdings of these insiders; at the end of the week, the three insiders together held only about 50,000 shares of Visa. Also, they represent a pick-up in insider selling given that insiders sold only an additional 95,505 shares during the remaining 51 weeks of the year.
Active Power Inc. (NASDAQ:ACPW): ACPW manufactures flywheel-based uninterruptible power supply systems to generate short-term backup electricity. Insiders currently hold 10.9 million or 13.7% of outstanding shares. During the last week, Kinderhook Capital Partners, a corporate insider by virtue of their 10% plus ownership in the company, bought 296,382 shares for $0.2 million, ending the week with 8.4 million shares. Overall, insiders bought only an additional 55,000 shares during the remaining 51 weeks of the past year. ACPW has been week, falling almost three-quarters this year on account of unimpressive operating results during the last few quarters, so the insider buy by institutional insider Kinderhook Capital could be interpreted as an indication that shares are likely near a bottom here.
Torchmark Corp. (NYSE:TMK): TMK offers individual life and supplemental health insurance including juvenile and senior life coverage. Insiders currently hold 3.4 million or 4.1% of outstanding shares. During the last week, four insiders (including the CEO, CFO and General Counsel) exercised their options and sold the resulting 138,625 shares (regular sell) for $5.8 million. Overall, during the five weeks, insiders sold a total of 0.78 million shares, which is a significant pick-up given that insiders sold only a total of 1.2 million shares during the past year.
Emerson Electric Co. (NYSE:EMR): EMR designs and supplies a broad range of electrical, electromechanical and electronic product and systems, and associated engineering services, for the industrial, commercial and consumer markets. Insiders currently hold 5.5 million or 0.7% of outstanding shares. During the last week, COO Monser sold 27,912 shares (regular sell) for $1.4 million, ending the week with 241,214 shares. This is significant given that the last time insiders sold EMR shares was in early November of last year.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
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