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Should You Take Comfort From Insider Transactions At Axcella Health Inc. (NASDAQ:AXLA)?

·3 min read

We've lost count of how many times insiders have accumulated shares in a company that goes on to improve markedly. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of examples of share prices declining precipitously after insiders have sold shares. So before you buy or sell Axcella Health Inc. (NASDAQ:AXLA), you may well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling.

What Is Insider Selling?

Most investors know that it is quite permissible for company leaders, such as directors of the board, to buy and sell stock in the company. However, most countries require that the company discloses such transactions to the market.

We don't think shareholders should simply follow insider transactions. But it is perfectly logical to keep tabs on what insiders are doing. As Peter Lynch said, 'insiders might sell their shares for any number of reasons, but they buy them for only one: they think the price will rise'.

See our latest analysis for Axcella Health

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At Axcella Health

Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by Chairman David Epstein for US$238k worth of shares, at about US$4.75 per share. So it's clear an insider wanted to buy, even at a higher price than the current share price (being US$3.41). Their view may have changed since then, but at least it shows they felt optimistic at the time. In our view, the price an insider pays for shares is very important. It is encouraging to see an insider paid above the current price for shares, as it suggests they saw value, even at higher levels. David Epstein was the only individual insider to buy during the last year.

You can see the insider transactions (by companies and individuals) over the last year depicted in the chart below. If you click on the chart, you can see all the individual transactions, including the share price, individual, and the date!

insider-trading-volume
insider-trading-volume

Axcella Health is not the only stock that insiders are buying. For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Insider Ownership of Axcella Health

Another way to test the alignment between the leaders of a company and other shareholders is to look at how many shares they own. Usually, the higher the insider ownership, the more likely it is that insiders will be incentivised to build the company for the long term. From looking at our data, insiders own US$3.2m worth of Axcella Health stock, about 2.5% of the company. We prefer to see high levels of insider ownership.

So What Do The Axcella Health Insider Transactions Indicate?

The fact that there have been no Axcella Health insider transactions recently certainly doesn't bother us. On a brighter note, the transactions over the last year are encouraging. We'd like to see bigger individual holdings. However, we don't see anything to make us think Axcella Health insiders are doubting the company. In addition to knowing about insider transactions going on, it's beneficial to identify the risks facing Axcella Health. When we did our research, we found 4 warning signs for Axcella Health (2 are a bit unpleasant!) that we believe deserve your full attention.

If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt.

For the purposes of this article, insiders are those individuals who report their transactions to the relevant regulatory body. We currently account for open market transactions and private dispositions, but not derivative transactions.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.