Tuesday's Noteworthy Insider Buys And Sells

by: GuruFundPicks

Insiders reported that on Tuesday, December 20, they bought and sold stock in over 290 separate transactions in 172 different companies. These transactions have to be reported within two days of the trade, so the transactions occurred sometime after the middle of last week. We culled through these 290 or so insider buys and sells (based on SEC Forms 3, 4, and 5 filings), as part of our daily and weekly coverage of insider trades, and present here the most notable trades reported Tuesday (for a general discussion on how to interpret insider trades, please look at the end of this article):

Progressive Corp. Ohio (NYSE:PGR): PGR offers private passenger automobile insurance policies in all 50 states and D.C. Insiders currently hold 49.4 million or 7.3% of company shares. On Tuesday, two insiders reported that they sold a total of 27,774 shares for $0.6 million. This included CFO Brian Domeck exercising options and selling the resulting 22,774 shares, and Chief Investment Officer William Cody exercising options to acquire 28,669 shares and selling 5,000 of the resulting shares.

Insider selling is not that common at PGR, and in the past three months insider sold only an additional 6,100 shares (buying none). PGR trades at 12 forward P/E compared to 12.6 average for its peers in the property & casualty insurance group.

Torchmark Corp. (NYSE:TMK): TMK offers individual life and supplemental health insurance, including juvenile and senior life coverage. Insiders currently hold 3.3 million or 4.0% of outstanding shares. On Tuesday, CFO Gary Coleman reported that he exercised options and sold the resulting 19,920 shares for $0.8 million.

Insider selling at TMK has picked up as shares approach within striking distance of its all-time highs; a record 357,072 shares were sold (and none bought) so far in December by eight different insiders for about $15 million, compared to the 1.36 million shares sold during the past year (3,218 bought). TMK trades at a discount 8 forward P/E compared to 9.1 average for its peers in the life insurance group.

Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ:GRMN): GRMN manufactures hand-held, portable and fixed-mount GPS systems for automotive, outdoor, marine and aviation markets. Insiders currently hold 39.6 million or 19.7% of outstanding shares. On Tuesday, Director Donald Eller reported that he sold 100,000 shares for $3.8 million from the Donald H. Eller Living Trust in which he holds an indirect ownership interest. This is significant in that it is a large sell, and also given that over the past year insiders sold only an additional 153,320 shares (buying none).

The pickup in insider selling is notable given that GRMN shares have risen over 150% from the bottom of the 2008/09 recession, after an almost 90% fall from their all-time highs, and currently trade near their highs since the recovery. GRMN trades at 16 forward P/E compared to the 18.9 average for its peers in the miscellaneous electronics products group.

Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS): ISIS is a leading genomics-based drug discovery and development company that develops treatments for cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer using its antisense drug discovery platform. Insiders currently hold 2.7 million or 2.8% of the outstanding shares. On Tuesday, four insiders reported that they sold a total of 96,200 shares for $0.7 million. This included CEO Stanley Crooke (63,300 shares), COO Lynne Parshall (23,500 shares), SVP Frank Bennett (5,500 shares) and SVP Richard Geary (3,900 shares), all from exercising options and pursuant to a 10b5-1 trading plan. Insider selling is uncommon at ISIS, as the last time insiders sold was in early August, and overall insiders sold only an additional 11,000 shares so far this year.

Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE:KOG): Denver-based KOG is an independent energy exploration and development company focused on exploring, developing and producing oil and natural gas in the Williston and Greater Green River Basins in the U.S. Rocky Mountains. Insiders currently hold 5.4 million or 2.6% of outstanding shares. On Tuesday, Director Rodney Knutson reported that he sold 50,000 shares for $0.45 million. This is on top of the 50,000 shares that we reported he sold just yesterday.

Insider selling is not that common at KOG, and the last time insiders sold at KOG before the 100,000 shares sold by Mr. Knutson recently was on April 1st, and overall insiders sold only an additional 270,000 shares in the past year (buying 26,450). KOG shares trade at 9 forward P/E and 3.5 P/B compared to averages of 22.2 and 5.3 for its peers in the U.S. oil & gas exploration & production group.

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT): AMAT provides manufacturing equipment, services, and software to the semiconductor, flat panel display, solar photovoltaic (PV), and related industries worldwide. Insiders currently hold 15.8 million or 1.2% of outstanding shares. On Tuesday, Director Gerhard Parker reported that he sold 20,000 shares for $0.1 million, ending with 103,430 shares. Overall, insiders sold only an additional 14,424 shares in the past three months. AMAT trades at 9 forward P/E compared to 12.0 average for its peers in the semiconductor equipment group.

Affymax Inc. (NASDAQ:AFFY): AFFY is a biotech company that is developing a pipeline of synthetic peptide-based drug candidates for the treatment of serious and life-threatening conditions, including for the treatment of kidney diseases. Insiders currently hold 0.4 million or 1.0% of outstanding shares. On Tuesday, Director Peter Walker reported that he purchased 16,540 shares for $0.1 million, a new position for him in his portfolio.

This is significant in that insider buying is uncommon at AFFY, and in fact the last time insiders bought shares was in March 2009. AFFY shares have been among the biggest movers in the biotech group in December, up as much as 60% at their highs earlier this month after winning FDA advisory panel backing for its peginesatide anemia drug for the treatment of anemia in chronic kidney disease (CKD) in adult patients on dialysis. If approved, the drug would compete with AMGN in a multi-billion dollar market for anemia drugs.

Credit: Fundamental data in this article were based on SEC filings, I-Metrix® by Edgar Online®, Zacks Investment Research, Thomson Reuters and Briefing.com. The information and data is believed to be accurate, but no guarantees or representations are made.

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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