Despite a wobbly day on Friday, the markets again continued their melt-up last week, with all the indexes at one point hitting all-time highs yet again. With the fourth-quarter reporting season all but over, the windows for executives to buy and sell shares are opening back up and we have seen a big increase in the number of buyers. While the volume is far lower than this time last year when the markets slumped to start off 2016, the increase is encouraging.
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.
Here are some companies that reported notable insider buying last week.
Hedge fund Elliott Associates continued its pursuit of shares of Arconic Inc. (ARNC) last week. The fund bought stock in this maker of engineered products for aerospace and other markets four times, with purchases that totaled 975,000 shares. The share prices ranged from $29.18 to $29.86, and the total for the four buys was a stunning $29 million. The shares ended trading last Friday at $29.91, in a 52-week trading range of $16.75 to $30.16. The Wall Street consensus price target is $27.20.
Long-suffering Twitter Inc. (TWTR) shareholders will be glad to hear that the co-founder, CEO and director Jack Dorsey was buying shares of the company last week. He purchased some 426,000 shares of the stock at prices that ranged from $15.87 to $16.54. The total for the buy was posted at $7 million. The 52-week trading range for the stock is $13.73 to $25.25. The consensus price objective is $14.37, but shares traded above that level on Friday at $16.62.
Murphy’s USA Inc. (MUSA) had a director at the convenience store operator buying some stock last week. That director acquired a total of 15,298 shares at $65.37 apiece. The total for the buy was posted at $1 million. The stock closed last Friday at $65.10. It has a 52-week range of $56.92 to $80.44 and a consensus price target of $77.00.
Hedge fund Perceptive Advisors was again buying shares of Versartis Inc. (VSAR) last week. The fund bought a total of 94,016 shares of the biopharmaceutical company at prices between $14.94 and $15.51 a share. The total for the trade was set at $1.5 million. The stock changed hands on Friday's close at $16.35, so a well-timed trade, it appears. The 52-week range is a wide $6.17 to $16.55, and the consensus price target is set at $26.29.
Oil services giant Halliburton Inc. (HAL) had a director at the company purchasing stock last week. The executive picked up a total of 5,390 shares. At $57.11 apiece, the total for the trade was posted at $300,000. But note that the stock ended last week at $53.71. Its 52-week range is $30.84 to $58.78, and the consensus price target is $63.54.
We also had a look at last week's notable insider selling in Harley-Davidson, Ameriprise Financial and others.
While the volume levels for insider buying have certainly jumped since last month, the overall buying remains tepid, and that should not be a huge surprise given the strength and price of the market currently.