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Top Insider Trades 7/24/12: YHOO, WPRT, IMAX, EPAX

|Includes: Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)

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In a victory for common sense, the trading behavior of company executives, directors, and large shareholders in the stocks of firms they're registered "insiders" at have been proven profitable to monitor by both academic studies and (more importantly) the experience of your fellow professional investors.

Below are lists of the top 10 mainly open-market insider purchases and sales filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday, July 24, 2012 as ranked by dollar value.

Please note, however, that these are factual lists, not buy and sell recommendations. Dollar value is only one metric to assess the importance of an insider transaction, and, frankly, often not even the most important metric that determines if an insider transaction is significant.

Today's Top Buys, however, contain several significant insider signals. Third Point's Daniel Loeb is speaking positively about Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) via his pocketbook instead of negatively and loudly any way he can as he often does. While the $39.4 million more his firm is investing increases his stake by just 3.5%, one could imagine this oftentimes gruff activist dumping shares instead at this point, if he did not approve of Yahoo!'s new CEO. The fact that Director Michael Wolf increased his stake by a much larger 67.6% with his just filed $380k purchase of YHOO adds significance to the insider profile of this company in transition.

In a good market, an insider buying cluster that includes Mr. Loeb could be expected to move a stock a bit higher on it own. We still don't see an imminent change in Yahoo!'s fundamental prospects, however, and see no rush to follow insiders into YHOO. Reasonable minds may differ.

Big-time investor Kevin Douglas continues to be a busy buyer of both Westport Innovations (NASDAQ:WPRT) and Imax (NYSE:IMAX). Subscribers to our InsiderInsights Newsletter have been getting the fundamental story on Westport since we first rated this stock a buy back in February 2010. We've already taken one round of profits in this big winner, but again have a full position in the stock as we bet its recent pullback represents another buying opportunity. Mr. Douglas obviously concurs.

Imax has popped on the list of significantly insider bought stocks to consider going long for several weeks now in our Newsletter. Despite our reticence to pay up for 3D effects that add neither plot nor thrill advantages (in our opinion), Imax does appear to have fundamental momentum, and its stock price momentum. It remains under consideration.

We've already bitten, however, on tiny cap Ambassadors Group (NASDAQ:EPAX). And since our Newsletter subscribers have already has the chance to act on our research, we don't mind sharing some content. Recent insider purchases by Bandera Partners and Peter Kamin (a co-founder of renowned value shop, ValueAct Capital) in what is usually a quiet period for firms has us intrigued. The fact that Director Kamin has been buying in July seems to indicate that Ambassadors does not have the usual trading window restrictions in place for its insiders. The company releases its Q2 after the bell tomorrow (July 25th), and Bandera (deemed an insider only by virtue of its large holdings) seems to think the quarter won't disappoint.

But as we've written quite extensively in our Newsletter, we think these insiders are more focused on EPAX's remarkable value metrics, and wouldn't risk the legal ramifications of such obvious front running of a bonzo quarter. Despite EPAX's apparent value, however, any stock this small has to be considered a high-risk prospect.

At, we find new investment ideas just about every day using these and more intricate insider screens to determine where we should focus our subsequent fundamental and technical analysis. And while stocks don't (or shouldn't) move up or down based on insider activity alone, insiders tend to be good indicators of when real stock-moving events like earnings surprises, corporate actions, and new products may be in the offing.

So use these regular blog posts as the initial research tools they are meant to be, and click the links in the tables to analyze a company's or insider's full insider history. Also feel free to email us with any questions on our proprietary insider data, and how it is best analyzed.

Insider Purchases
1 Loeb Daniel S DIR Yahoo YHOO B $39,429,400
2 Icahn Carl C BO Navistar International NAV B $15,751,189
3 Domain Partners VIII BO Durata Therapeutics DRTX JB* $7,006,824
4 Douglas Kevin BO Westport Innovations WPRT B $5,466,890
5 Douglas Kevin BO IMAX IMAX B $2,440,000
6 McCarthy Kent C BO China Cord Blood CO B $815,750
7 Edwards Stephen F CB,DIR COSI COSI JB* $600,001
8 Stutz Carin CEO,PR,DIR COSI COSI JB* $500,000
9 Bandera Partners BO Ambassadors EPAX B $387,288
10 Wolf Michael J DIR Yahoo YHOO B $380,030

Source: | Key to Insider Title and Trans Type Codes

Insider Sales
1 Stryker Ronda E DIR Stryker SYK AS $1,373,184
2 Tarvin Michael E VP Select Medical SEM AS $1,115,315
3 Schmidt Neal J VP Platinum Underwriters PTP S $912,185
4 George Roger E VP,LO,GC Align Technology ALGN S $678,597
5 Palette Donald W VP,CFO Skyworks Solutions SWKS S $460,960
6 Lawther Krill Katherine PR,CEO,DIR ANN ANN AS $398,777
7 Greenhill & Co O Iridium Comms IRDM AS $360,164
8 Ryan Paul R PR,CEO Acacia Research ACTG AS $289,208
9 Lee Dooyong VP Acacia Research ACTG AS $289,208
10 Athene BO Apollo Comml RE Fin ARI S $289,180

Source: | Key to Insider Title and Trans Type Codes

Disclosure: I am long WPRT, EPAX.

Additional disclosure: Clients of Insider Asset Management also own WPRT and EPAX.