Paced By Tech Companies, Insiders Selling Off More Shares Than Ever

Includes: GOOG, KSS, MSFT, STX
by: Tiernan Ray

Well, more than they have in a long time, says an article in Bloomberg this afternoon. Actually, the article says the margin by which stock sales by “corporate chieftains” exceeded purchases was the highest since January of ‘87. Some of the top culprits are tech execs, such as Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bill Gates and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) chief executive Eric Schmidt, says Bloomberg. From the article:

Executives including Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates, Google Inc.’s Eric Schmidt and Kohl’s Corp.’s (NYSE:KSS) William Kellogg in aggregate sold $63.18 of shares for every $1 they bought in November, an analysis by Bloomberg of data from the Washington Service showed. That’s the highest since at least January 1987.

“They’re pretty savvy market guys,'’ said Wayne Wilbanks, who oversees about $1.2 billion as chief investment officer at Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas Asset Management LLC in Norfolk, Virginia. “They see things are slowing down, and they’re like, `Man, I’m taking some money off the table.”’

Microsoft was top of the list of inside selling, with Bill G. selling $581.1 million of the $594.2 million of the company’s insider stock sales. And Schmidt sold $31.2 million of the $182.1 million in Google’s insider sales in November, putting the company in fourth place in insider sales, says Bloomberg, citing the Washington Service. In second and third place were disk-drive maker Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX), and Dreamworks Animation SKG (DWG).

And, gosh, all these stocks are near highs: Google shares today are 5% off their 52-week high at $488.71; Microsoft shares are a hair under their 52-week high at $28.99; so’s Seagate stock, at $26.37; and Dreamworks at $29.92.