Insiders reported that on Thursday and Friday, December the 29th and 30th, they bought and sold stock in over 380 separate transactions in over 200 different companies. These transactions have to be reported within two days of the trade, so the transactions occurred sometime earlier in the week. We culled through these 380 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 Thursday and Friday (for more info on how to interpret insider trades, please refer to the end of this article):
Aetna Inc. (AET): AET is a diversified U.S. health care benefits company offering a range of health insurance products and related services, including medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral health, group life, and disability plans, as well as medical management capabilities and Medicaid health care management. Insiders hold 1.1 million or 0.3% of outstanding shares.
On Friday, two insiders filed SEC form 4 indicating that they sold a total of 202,290 shares for $8.7 million. Of these, CEO Mark Bertolini exercised options and sold the resulting 200,000 shares for $8.6 million. Insider selling is uncommon at AET, and in fact, over the past year, insiders sold only an additional 92,826 shares (buying 2,575 shares total). AET shares have fared well in recent years, currently trading within striking distance of its 3-year highs, and up almost three-fold from the depths of the 2008-09 market pullback, powered higher by earnings growth. It trades at 8-9 forward P/E and 1.5 P/B compared to averages of 11.1 and 1.9 respectively for its peers in the managed care group.
Nike Inc. (NKE): NKE is engaged in the design, development, marketing and sale of high-quality athletic footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessories in 170 countries worldwide. Insiders hold 68.2 million or 14.1% of outstanding shares. On Friday, CFO Donald Blair filed SEC Form 4 indicating that he exercised options and sold the resulting 33,000 shares for $3.2 million, ending with 67,666 shares (and another 7,661 shares in indirect holdings).
Insider selling has picked up at NKE recently, as we reported another $3.0 million sale by CFO Donald Blair just earlier this week. Overall, insiders sold a total of 138,420 shares (buying none) in the past three months. NKE shares have done extremely well, up four-fold in the last decade, powered higher by consistently rising earnings. Its shares trade at a premium 16-17 forward P/E and 4.6 P/B compared to averages of 11.9 and 7.5 respectively for the shoes and related apparel group.
Netapp Inc. (NTAP): NTAP manufactures integrated network storage and data management hardware for corporations and government agencies. Insiders currently hold 1.3 million or 0.4% of outstanding shares. On Friday, Director Daniel Warmenhoven filed SEC Form 4, indicating that he exercised options and sold the resulting 94,440 shares for $3.4 million from the trust over which he has indirect control. This is on top of the $4.4 million in NTAP that we reported he sold just earlier this week. Overall, insiders sold only an additional 3,958 shares during the last three months (buying none). NTAP shares have been weak this year, down 34% YTD, and it trades at 13-14 forward P/E and 3.4 P/B compared to averages of 74.3 and 2.9 for its peers in the computer storages devices group.
Gannett Co. (GCI): GCI is a media and marketing solutions company and most famously, the publisher of USA TODAY-- the nation's largest-selling daily newspaper-- and over 400 other non-daily publications in the U.S. Its subsidiary Newsquest is the U.K.'s second largest regional newspaper company, with more than 300 titles, including 15 daily newspapers. Also, it operates 22 television stations in the U.S. Insiders hold 0.7 million or 0.3% of outstanding shares.
On Friday, President of Digital Ventures John Williams filed SEC Form 4 indicating that he sold 1,004 shares. While this is not significant, another insider, SVP of Human Resources Roxanne Horning, filed SEC Form 4 just last Friday, indicating that she sold another 8,500 shares. Taken together, these are the only two insider sales in the last three months, and in fact, insiders sold only a total of 47,005 shares in the past year (buying 2,000). GCI, like many of its newspaper peers, has seen rough times lately, down a whopping 85% from its $90+ highs in early 2004. Its shares currently trade at 6 forward P/E and 1.3 P/B compared to averages of 11.3 and 1.1 for its peers in the newspaper publishers group.
NII Holdings Inc. (NIHD): NIHD provides wireless communications services under the Nextel brand name to businesses and individuals in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Chile. Insiders hold 1.4 million or 0.8% of outstanding shares. On Thursday, President of Nextel Argentina Ruben Butvilofsky filed SEC Form 4 indicating that he purchased 15,275 shares for $0.3 million, under a 10b5-1 plan, increasing his holdings to 30,927 shares. Overall, insiders purchased a total of 54,045 shares in the past year (selling 191,334).
NIHD shares have been extremely weak lately, cut in half YTD, as earnings have continued to disappoint, missing analyst estimates every quarter and down from $2.27 in 2009 to a projected $1.64 this year. Its shares trade at a discount 10-11 forward P/E and 1.1 P/B compared to averages of 11.6 and 3.7 respectively for its non-U.S. wireless group peers, while earnings are projected to rebound to $2.00 in 2012 from $1.64 this year, thereby possibly cushioning any further losses to the downside.
On top of these, some additional large insider trades on Thursday and Friday include SVP Heather Mason at pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories (ABT) exercising options and selling the resulting shares for $3.0 million, under a 10b5-1 plan; SVP of operations Mark Ciarfella at wireless communications tower owner and operator SBA Communications (SBAC) exercising options and selling the resulting shares for $1.1 million, under a 10b5-1 plan; and CEO David Overton at restaurant chain operator Cheesecake Factory Inc. (CAKE) exercising options and selling the resulting shares for $2.2 million, under a 10b5-1 plan.
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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