More On Company Insiders

By: Guy Lerner | Mon, Mar 1, 2010
Print Email

This week's sentiment report highlighted company insiders and the fact that they have stepped up their selling. Some may question the wisdom of following company insiders. After all, they were buying at the October, 2007 top and have been selling for the past 8 months.

Figure 1 is a weekly chart of the S&P500 with the InsiderScore "entire market" value in the lower panel, and here we focus on the 2007 topping process. Insiders were buying to an extreme degree and I have highlighted those extremes with the vertical bars. One would expect that company insiders are buying with a longer term perspective as opposed to flipping after the next peak in prices. So this bullishness at the time of the October, 2007 top suggests that those at the controls of their companies didn't even see the troubles ahead.

Figure 1. InsiderScore/ October, 2007

Nonetheless, here we have an article by Mark Hulbert from the NY Times: "More Often Than Not, the Insiders Get It Right". Hulbert does acknowledge the 2007 gaff by the insiders, but he comes to the conclusion that they are worth following. He quotes H. Nejat Seyhun, a finance professor at the University of Michigan, who has studied the actions of corporate insiders since the 1970's. The good professor suggests that company insiders are not infallible, but they likely to know when their own company's stock is undervalued.

Hulbert also quotes from the current Vickers Weekly Insiders Report where the sell to buy ratio had fallen back to 3.52 to 1. In November, 2009, the ratio was 5.21 to 1 and back in March, 2009 at the bottom it was 0.45 to 1, which was the lowest value since 1990.

Also I want to mention this article seen recently over at Pragmatic Capitalist blog: "Insider Selling Soars to 2010 High".

Lastly, I should also mention that InsiderScore provides a market score to assess insider trading. This score just isn't a reflection of a company insider sell to buy ratio. InsiderScore's market score has some qualitative components to it such that they are assessing what type of insider is buying (i.e., CEO v. junior v.p.), their past track record with regards to timeliness, and the amount of buys or sells relative to past transactions. Unfortunately, their data only goes back to 2004, but as we have seen as well, it is not infallible. Nonetheless, I do like the qualitative aspect to it.

My take on insider selling: Insider selling is useful, but like any indicator or data point it can go through periods where it just doesn't get it right. I would rather bet with the "smart money" and figure out when they are wrong, then ignore their actions altogether. This is why I use multiple inputs or points of light to illuminate to my market analysis.

Get a daily dose of market sentiment. Subscribe to our Premium Content! Improve your market timing.

 


 

Guy Lerner

Author: Guy Lerner

Guy M. Lerner
http://thetechnicaltakedotcom.blogspot.com/

Disclaimer: Guy M. Lerner is the editor and founder of The Technical Take blog. His commentary on the financial markets is based upon information thought to be reliable and is not meant as investment advice. Under no circumstances does the information in his columns represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Lerner may on occasion hold positions in the securities mentioned in his columns and on the Web site; in all instances, all positions are fully disclosed at http://thetechnicaltakedotcom.blogspot.com/. However, their positions may change at anytime. For more information on any of the above, please review The Technical Take's full Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (link below). While Lerner cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send your comments to: guy@thetechnicaltake.com.

Copyright Notice: Except for making one printed copy of this newsletter or any other materials, files or documents available from, accessible through or published by TheTechnicalTake, LLC for your personal use (or downloading for the same limited purpose), none of these said materials, files and/or documents may be reproduced, republished, rebroadcast or otherwise re-distributed without the prior expressed written permission of Guy M. Lerner.

Copyright © 2004-2012 Guy Lerner

All Images, XHTML Renderings, and Source Code Copyright © Safehaven.com