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Did Mettler-Toledo International Inc. (NYSE:MTD) Insiders Sell Shares?

Simply Wall St

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We often see insiders buying up shares in companies that perform well over the long term. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of examples of share prices declining precipitously after insiders have sold shares. So shareholders might well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in Mettler-Toledo International Inc. (NYSE:MTD).

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 on the market. However, most countries require that the company discloses such transactions to the market.

We would never suggest that investors should base their decisions solely on what the directors of a company have been doing. But it is perfectly logical to keep tabs on what insiders are doing. For example, a Harvard University study found that 'insider purchases earn abnormal returns of more than 6% per year.'

View our latest analysis for Mettler-Toledo International

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At Mettler-Toledo International

Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider sale was by the Chairman, Robert Spoerry, for US$24m worth of shares, at about US$675 per share. That means that even when the share price was below the current price of US$805, an insider wanted to cash in some shares. When an insider sells below the current price, it suggests that they considered that lower price to be fair. That makes us wonder what they think of the (higher) recent valuation. While insider selling is not a positive sign, we can't be sure if it does mean insiders think the shares are fully valued, so it's only a weak sign. We note that the biggest single sale was only 11.7% of Robert Spoerry's holding.

We note that in the last year insiders divested 133k shares for a total of US$90m. Insiders in Mettler-Toledo International didn't buy any shares in the last year. You can see the insider transactions (by individuals) over the last year depicted in the chart below. By clicking on the graph below, you can see the precise details of each insider transaction!

NYSE:MTD Recent Insider Trading, June 12th 2019

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Mettler-Toledo International Insiders Are Selling The Stock

The last three months saw significant insider selling at Mettler-Toledo International. In total, Presiding Director Thomas Salice sold US$6.0m worth of shares in that time, and we didn't record any purchases whatsoever. This may suggest that some insiders think that the shares are not cheap.

Insider Ownership

Many investors like to check how much of a company is owned by insiders. We usually like to see fairly high levels of insider ownership. Mettler-Toledo International insiders own 1.8% of the company, currently worth about US$359m based on the recent share price. I like to see this level of insider ownership, because it increases the chances that management are thinking about the best interests of shareholders.

What Might The Insider Transactions At Mettler-Toledo International Tell Us?

An insider sold stock recently, but they haven't been buying. And there weren't any purchases to give us comfort, over the last year. On the plus side, Mettler-Toledo International makes money, and is growing profits. The company boasts high insider ownership, but we're a little hesitant, given the history of share sales. If you are like me, you may want to think about whether this company will grow or shrink. Luckily, you can check this free report showing analyst forecasts for its future.

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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. 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. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.