When corporate insiders sell stocks of their own companies, it may be a signal that the time is ripe for general investors to unload their shares. The reasons to sell are many; however, when insiders sell en masse at prices close to the highest in a year, odds are high that they see limited or no potential for the shares of their companies to rally much higher. Here is a look at four dividend-paying stocks that have seen heavy insider selling in recent days:
Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE:FNF) is a $4.2 billion title insurance and mortgage services company. It is the largest U.S. title insurance company. The company boasts a dividend yield of 3.0% on a payout ratio of 31%. Its peers, First American Financial Corporation (NYSE:FAF) and Old Republic International Corp. (NYSE:ORI), pay dividend yields of 2.0% and 8.5%, respectively. Analysts see a small contraction in the company's EPS over the next five years, after a remarkable growth in EPS averaging almost 27% per year over the past five years. Interestingly, the company is so diversified that it also includes a sizable restaurant business, human resource/payroll benefits solutions and an ownership interest in an auto parts manufacturer. The company's shares are currently trading at $19.14 a share, close to the stock's 52-week high of $19.70 a share. The stock is up 19.6% year-to-date.
Since June 10, there have been eight insider sales. In these transactions, corporate insiders unloaded a total of 1,090,589 shares, at an average price of $19.35 per share. Among the notable sellers was the company's Chairman of the Board of Directors, William P. Foley II, who disposed of 666,219 shares at an average price of $19.40 a share. It should be noted, however, that the stock is a popular pick in the portfolios of fund managers Jeffrey Ubben and Ken Griffin.
Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) is the second-largest U.S. retailer after Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT). It has market capitalization of $38 billion. The company pays a dividend yield of 2.5% on a payout ratio of 33%. The retailer's competitors Wal-Mart and Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) yield 2.3% and 1.2%, respectively. The company is forecast to see a robust EPS growth averaging nearly 12% per year for the next half decade. The retailer is currently changing hands at $57.47 a share, up 12.4% year-to-date. The stock is trading with a forward P/E slightly below that of its peers and the company's historical metrics.
Since May 31, there have been ten separate insider sales. In total, insiders disposed of some 242,678 shares at an average price of $58.58 a share. On May 31 and June 8, one of the company's directors, Roxanne S. Austin, sold a total of 30,065 shares at an average price of the two transactions of $58.50 a share. On June 5, Tina M. Schiel, the company's Executive VP of Stores, sold 15,000 shares at $57.35 a share. On June 8 and 11, Timothy R. Baer, Target's Executive VP and General Counsel, sold a total of 34,872 shares at an average transaction price of $59.00 a share. On June 15, Gregg W. Steinhaffel, Board Chairman, President and CEO, sold 75,817 shares at a price of $58.72 a share. In four transactions between June 18 and 21, John D. Griffith, the company's Executive VP of Property Development, sold a total of 86,924 shares at an average price of $58.49 a share. Note that all these transactions were mostly a buck or so away from Target's 52-week high price of $59.40 a share. Fund managers Steven Cohen, Jonathon Jacobson, and Ken Griffin hold large stakes in the company.
Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE:TWC) is a $25 billion U.S. cable operator, providing video, data, and voice services over its high-speed broadband cable systems. The company pays a dividend yield of 2.9% on a payout ratio of 43%. The company's peers Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Cablevision Systems (NYSE:CVC) pay dividend yields of 2.1% and 4.9%, respectively. Time Warner Cable is expected to grow its EPS at an average rate of 16.2% per year for the next five years. The company's stock is changing hands at $80.00 a share, up 23% year-to-date. The shares are trading at a discount to the industry.
In June, there have been two insider sales. On June 11, Carl U.J. Rossetti, Executive Vice President and President (Time Warner Cable Ventures), sold 6,000 shares at a price of $77.37 a share. Three days later, on June 14, Glenn A. Britt, the company's Chairman and CEO, sold 75,000 shares at an average price of $77.80 a share. Among fund managers, Larry Robbins and John Shapiro were major holders of the stock in the first quarter of 2012.
Raytheon Co. (NYSE:RTN) is a technology company servicing defense, homeland security, and other government markets globally. The company pays a dividend yielding 3.6% on a low payout ratio of 37%. The company's key competitors Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), and General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) pay yields of 4.8%, 3.6%, and 3.3%, respectively. The company's average annual EPS growth for the next five years has been cut almost in half compared to the growth rate realized over the past five years. Deep defense budget cuts bode poorly for the company. This defense contractor has a forward P/E slightly above that of its peers, but below the historical average ratio for the company per se. The stock is currently trading at $54.88 a share, up 13% year to date and close to its 52-week high.
As regards insider sales, since June 3, there have been 11 separate sales transactions. In total, insiders have sold 135,475 shares at an average price of $52.10 a share. Among these transactions, there were also two separate sales by the company's Chairman and CEO, William H. Swanson. He sold a total of 42,187 shares at an average price of the two transactions of about $49.34 a share. Among fund managers, the stock was popular in the first quarter with Phill Gross and Robert Atchinson (Adage Capital Management-see its top holdings), Ron Gutfleish, and Cliff Asness.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.