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Huge Buffett and Icahn Trades Highlight Insider Buying: Transdigm, Herbalife, Navistar, Calavo Growers, Sears and More

Lee Jackson

Another week in which the relentless strength of the stock market continued, albeit at a much slower pace. Despite a rate increase by the Federal Reserve, which had been well-telegraphed, stocks were able to still push higher. And like the previous week, insider buying remained stronger than we have seen for most of the first quarter.

We cover insider buying each week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to remind readers that while insider buying is usually a very positive sign, it is not in of itself a reason to run out and buy a stock. Sometimes insiders and 10% owners have stock purchase plans set up at intervals to add to their holdings. That aside, it still remains an overall positive indicator.

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Here are some of the companies that reported notable insider buying last week.

Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway were big buyers this week, as they added shares of aircraft components maker Transdigm Group Inc. (TDG), for which they also serve as a director. Berkshire Hathaway bought 104,967 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $231.18 to $234.40 per share. The total for the trade came in at a massive $25 million. The shares closed trading last Friday at $240.05, so the timing looks good. The 52-week trading range for the stock is $214.65 to $294.38. The Wall Street consensus price target is pegged at $295.24.

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Another Wall Street legend was busy buying stock last week as well. Carl Icahn picked up a total of 372,324 shares of Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) as he continued to add to his already sizable position. Icahn bought the shares at $51.35 apiece. The total for the purchase was posted at $19 million. Note that the stock closed the day on Friday at $56.45. The 52-week trading range is $47.62 to $72.22, and the consensus price objective is set at $68.25.

Icahn also was a buyer last week of Navistar International Corp. (NAV). He acquired a total of 423.404 shares of the truck and engine maker at prices that ranged from $25.37 to $25.92. The total for the buy was listed at $11 million. The stock closed Friday at $27.49, so it looks like another well-timed buy. The 52-week range for the shares is $10.30 to $33.46, and the consensus price target is $26.79.

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Calavo Growers Inc. (CVGW) had the man at the top buying stock last week. CEO Lecil Cole purchased 95,000 shares of the avocados and other perishable foods distributor at prices between $55.44 and $56.92 a share. The total for the purchase was set at $5 million. The stock closed the day last Friday at $58.30, in a 52-week range of $48.745 to $71.48. The consensus price target is set at $73.17.

Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) had a buyer who is a director and a 10% owner of the company adding to holdings. Fairholme Capital acuired another 281,900 shares of the troubled retailer at prices that ranged from $8.33 to $8.82. The total for the buy was set at $3 million. The stock closed last Friday at $9.05. The 52-week range is $5.50 to $19.12, and the consensus price objective is a stunning $4.00.

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These companies also reported insider buying last week: Carrizo Oil and Gas Inc. (CRZO), Medifast Inc. (MED), Medley Capital Corp. (MCC), Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) and Sotheby’s (BID).

Wal-Mart and Analog Devices were among those companies that saw notable insider selling last week.

For the second week running the insiders were buying shares, and at these levels in the market, one would have to describe the action as bullish. With first-quarter earnings reporting ready to start in about three weeks, the windows to make transactions may be about to close, so that could explain some of the increase in volumes.

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