We present here two noteworthy buys and 10 noteworthy sells from Wednesday's SEC Form 4 (insider trading) filings, as part of our daily and weekly coverage of insider trades. These were selected by a review of more than 475 separate transactions in more than 250 different companies filed by insiders on Wednesday. The filings are noteworthy based on the dollar amount sold, the number of insiders buying or selling, and based on whether the overall buying or selling represents a strong pick-up based on historical buying and selling in the stock.
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (CLNE): CLNE, founded by famed energy investor and hedge fund manager Boone Pickens, provides natural gas as an alternative fuel to vehicle fleets in the U.S. and Canada, including customers in the refuse, transit, shuttle, taxi, intrastate and interstate trucking, airport and municipal fleet markets. On Wednesday, two insiders filed SEC Forms 4 indicating that they sold 206,000 shares for $4.1 million, pursuant to 10b5-1 plans. Of these, the large majority, 200,000 shares, were sold by CEO Andrew Littlefair, and he ended with 0.25 million shares after the sale. In comparison, insiders sold 3.0 million shares in the past year.
CLNE shares are up sharply this year, as much as over two-thirds earlier this week, buoyed by both strong company fundamentals as well as external developments. These include a historic low in natural gas prices that is presenting opportunities to displace coal in electricity generation, and oil in the 63transportation sector, buoyed further by President Obama's announcement in his recent State of the Union speech of the intention (of the government) to push forward the use of natural gas-powered car development. At current prices, however, the stock is extended technically, and trades at an expensive 3.2 P/B and 4.8 PSR (price-to-sales). We believe it is likely that absent any new positive developments, the stock is likely to consolidate here, within shooting range of its all-time highs, and the sharp reversal earlier this week could be the beginnings of a consolidation pullback.
Cobalt International Energy (CIE): CIE is engaged in the exploration and production of oil primarily in the deepwater of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and in offshore Angola and Gabon in West Africa. On Wednesday, 10% owner William Macaulay on behalf of Greenwich, CT-based leading private equity First Reserve Corporation, of which he is Chairman & CEO and that has over $21 billion in assets, filed SEC Form 4 indicating that he sold 11.8 million shares for $320.5 million, ending with 62.4 million shares after the sale. First Reserve has been a long-term holder of CIE since 2007, when it joined Goldman Sachs and others and made a $350 million commitment to CIE, and it may be taking advantage of the recent strong performance of CIE shares to start exiting its large position. CIE shares have mounted among the most remarkable rallies in the energy sector, at least among mid- and large-cap names, rising more than four-fold at its peak earlier this month since the break-out in mid-December. The strong performance is based on positive major developments in its exploration activities off Angola in West Africa.
LinkedIn Corp. (LNKD): LNKD operates an online professional network via its proprietary social networking platform that enables members to create, manage and share their professional identities online, build and engage with their professional network, access shared knowledge and insights, and find business opportunities. On Wednesday, eight insiders filed SEC Forms 4 indicating that they converted Class B common stock into Class A common stock and sold the resulting 245,747 (Class A common) shares for $21.9 million, pursuant to 10b5-1 plans. The largest sales were by CEO Jeff Weiner (74,584 shares), CFO Steven Sordello (40,000 shares) and Director and 10% owner Reid Hoffman (78,667 shares).
LNKD reported a bullish Q4 earlier this month, beating analyst earnings (12cents vs. 7cents) and revenue estimates ($168 million vs. $159 million); the stock has performed well, up almost 30% at its highs earlier this month compared with the price before the Q4 report. Analysts have been bullish on the stock, raising their price targets, and it currently trades at a premium of 80 forward P/E compared with the 28.2 average for its peers in the internet services group. However, growth is also extremely strong, with revenue currently growing at over 100% and earnings projected to more than triple from 35 cents in 2011 to $1.09 in 2012.
On top of these, some additional large insider sales reported on Wednesday included:
- a $16.8 million sale by three insiders at Rackspace Hosting Inc. (RAX), a world leader and specialist in hosting and cloud computing, offering computing-as-a-service, including various types of managed hosting services, to SMEs as well as large enterprises worldwide, with 40,000 of the 316,030 shares sold pursuant to 10b5-1 plans;
- a $8.3 million sale by four insiders at CBS Corp. (CBS), a global media company engaged in TV and radio broadcasting, motion picture production, publishing and advertising;
- a $3.2 million sale by two insiders at Liberty Interactive Corp. (LINTA), a holding company engaged in a broad range of electronic retailing, media, communications and entertainment businesses and investments;
- a $2.3 million sale by two insiders at State Street Corp. (STT), one of the world's leading providers of various financial services and products to institutional investors worldwide;
- a $2.0 million sale by two insiders at toy-maker Mattel Inc. (MAT);
- a $1.6 million sale by two insiders at Vmware Inc. Cl A (VMW), a provider of virtualization software enabling organizations to run multiple operating systems on a single computer; and
- a $1.4 million sale by President William Burke at Newell Rubbermaid Inc. (NWL) manufactures household hardware, cookware and office goods sold to volume retailers and wholesale distributors.
Furthermore, insiders also reported noteworthy buys on Wednesday in:
- Taser International (TASR), developer of less-than-lethal electronic control devices or ECDs for use in the law enforcement, military, corrections, private security and personal defense markets, in which Director Hadi Partovi purchased 50,000 shares for $0.21 million; and
- Superior Energy Services (SPN), a provider of specialized oilfield services and equipment for the production and drilling needs of oil and gas companies, in which Director Peter Kinnear purchased 10,000 shares for $0.3 million.
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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.