Insiders bought and sold $134 million of stock in the consumer sector and $246 million of stock in the retail sector last week, accounting for 7.9% and 14.5% respectively 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 consumer and retail sectors last week:
Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT): WMT is the world's largest retailer, and operates Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores worldwide under discount, super-center and neighborhood market formats. Insiders currently hold 31.4 million shares or 0.9% of outstanding shares. During the last week, Director Lee Scott, former CEO of WMT, sold 100,000 shares (regular sell) for $5.7 million, ending the week with 606,739 shares. This is significant in that it is a large sale, it represents a significant portion of Mr. Scott’s holdings in the company, and given that insiders sold only an additional 240,606 shares during the remaining 51 weeks of the year. Also, WMT shares have been range-bound for over ten years, and were trading at the top of that trading range last week, so the sale by Mr. Scott indicates that at least this old timer is not as sanguine about the direction of WMT shares going forward. Furthermore, please note that this sale by Mr. Scott comes on the back of the insider selling that we reported at WMT just last week.
Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE): EXPE is one of the largest online travel companies in the world, and provides travel products and services to leisure and corporate travelers, offline retail travel agents, and travel service providers through a portfolio of brands, including its flagship Expedia.com website, and also Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Venere, TripAdvisor.com, Classic Vacations, Expedia Local Expert, and Egencia. Insiders currently hold 10.2 million or 3.5% of outstanding shares. During the last week, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi exercised options and sold the resulting 64,027 shares (regular sell) for $1.8 million, ending the week with 251,842 shares. This is significant due to its size, in that the shares represent a significant portion of Mr. Khosrowshahi’s holdings in the company, and given that insiders sold only a total of 114,027 shares over the past three months and 321, 335 shares over the past year (buying none). Also, EXPE share have been strong recently, up almost five-fold from the lows in 2008/09, and are approaching their all-time highs, so the CEO selling a significant portion of his holdings could be interpreted to mean that he has less confidence that EXPE shares will break out to the upside above the $6-$32 in the short-term.
General Mills Inc. (NYSE:GIS): GIS manufactures cereals, specialty foods, yogurt, dough mixes, and snacks for the retail, club store and wholesale markets. Insiders currently hold 5.7 million or 0.9% of outstanding shares. During the last week, EVP Christopher O’Leary exercised options and sold the resulting 80,000 shares (automatic sell under 10b5-1 plan) for $3.2 million, ending the week with 189,232 shares. The shares sold represent a significant portion of Mr. O’Leary’s holdings in the company, and represent a pick-up in insider selling as overall insiders sold only an additional 64,481 shares during the remaining twelve weeks of the last three months, including the 41,700 sold by insiders at the end of October that we reported earlier in our weekly review of insider transactions.
Kimberly-Clark Corp. (NYSE:KMB): KMB manufactures disposable diapers, baby wipes, facial and bathroom tissue, paper towels and various commercial hygiene products. Insiders currently hold 0.9 million or 0.2% of outstanding shares. During the last week, four insiders (including the Chairman of the Board, a Director, and two Presidents) sold a total of 389,436 shares for $27.2 million, all under 10b5-1 trading plans. The majority of the shares (343,722 shares) were sold by the Chairman of the Board Thomas Falk, and he ended the week with no open long positions in the company. These insider transactions are significant given their size, the number of insiders selling, the fact that the Chairman sold his entire position in the company, and also since the last time insiders sold was in April, and also given that overall insiders sold a total of 1.05 million shares during the past year.
Lowes Companies Inc. (NYSE:LOW): LOW operates as a home improvement retailer operating 1,749 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Insiders currently hold 4.1 million shares or 0.3% of outstanding shares. During the last week, two insiders, the CIO and Deputy General Counsel, sold (regular sell) a total of 42,277 shares for $1.0 million. This is in addition to the 55,000 shares (regular sell) that we reported just last week, and represents a significant pick-up given that the last time insiders sold prior to the recent activity was in May.
Lululemon Athletica (NASDAQ:LULU): LULU operates and franchises yoga inspired athletic apparel stores for women, men and female youth in North America and Australia. Insiders currently hold 1.0 million or 0.8% of outstanding shares. During the last week, the Chief of Innovation and Branding, also a Director and 10% owner, Dennis Wilson sold 100,000 shares for $4.9 million under a 10b5-1 plan. Besides the 100,000 shares sold last week, Mr. Wilson sold another 100,000 shares in October, and overall insiders sold 356,682 shares in the past three months (buying none).
Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE:RAI): RAI manufactures cigarettes and other tobacco products primarily under the Camel, Doral and Kool brands. Insiders currently hold 244.5 million or 41.9% of outstanding shares. During the past week, British American Tobacco (NYSEMKT:BTI), beneficial owner of 244 million shares via Brown & Williamson Holdings Inc. (B&W), sold 1.4 million shares for $55 million. RAI, along with many other tobacco stocks, has been trading in all-time high territory, and is up over 150% since hitting the bottom in early 2009.
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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