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Insider Buying Jumps as Market Volatility Grows: Sears, IFF, Pulse Biosciences, PRA Group, Radius Health and More

Lee Jackson

After weeks of sitting on the sidelines, insiders have been buying shares again in earnest, and the big drop in the markets last week, combined with higher volatility seemed to really get them out. The big market sell-off combined with renewed anxiety after the terror incident in London seemed to act as a cue to buyers looking to take advantage of corporate windows to buy shares that are still open in front of first-quarter earnings, which are now only two weeks away.

We cover insider buying each and every 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.

Troubled Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) again saw some insider buying. Fairholme Capital, a 10% owner, bought shares twice. One buy late in the week was 613,900 shares of the iconic retailer at prices that ranged from $7.89 to $9.00 apiece. The total for the trade was posted at $5 million. Earlier in the week, Fairholme bought 222,100 shares at prices between $8.75 and $8.86 a share. The total for that buy was set at $2 million. The stock closed Friday at $8.50. Its 52-week trading range is $5.50 to $19.12, and the Wall Street consensus price target is just $4.00.

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF) is yet another company that hit our screens with a 10% institutional owner buying stock twice last week. Winder Investment purchased a total of 70,000 shares. At $128.38 per share, the total for the trade was a solid $9 million. Later in the week the company stepped in again and bought another 100,000 shares at prices between $129.47 and 132.20 apiece. The total for that buy was posted at $13 million. The shares closed trading last Friday at $133.19, so some timely buys for sure. The 52-week trading range is $112.91 to $143.64. The consensus price target is $131.40.

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A hot medical technology company also saw insider buying last week. Pulse Biosciences Inc. (PLSE) had a 10% owner, who also serves as a director at the firm, acquiring shares. The board member bought a total of 223,367 shares at prices that ranged from $22.46 to $24.16. The total for the purchase was posted at $5 million. The stock closed Friday at $30.34, so another well-timed purchase. The 52-week range is $4.02 to $30.61, and the consensus price target was not available.

PRA Group Inc. (PRAA) has been hit hard recently, and shareholders may be glad to know that a director took advantage of the sell-off and stepped in to buy shares. That board member bought 143,000 shares of the financial and business services company at prices that ranged from $34.40 to $34.89. The total for the buy was set at $5 million. The stock closed Friday at $32.90, in a 52-week range of $21.93 to $42.70. The consensus price target is $40.60.

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Radius Health Inc. (RDUS) is yet another company that had a 10% owner buying shares twice in the past week. Biotech Growth picked up a block of 50,000 shares at $35.83 apiece. The total for the purchase was set at $2 million. Earlier in the week the company had purchased 30,000 shares. At $38.41 a share, the total for that buy was $1 million. The stock closed Friday at $38.18. The 52-week trading range for the biopharmaceutical company is $28.00 to $59.88, and the consensus price objective is $61.00.

These companies also reported insider buying last week: Armour Residential REIT Inc. (ARR), Ducommun Inc. (DCO), PJT Partners Inc. (NYSE; PJT), Sonic Automotive Inc. (SAH) and Tandy Leather Factory Inc. (TLF).

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And notable insider selling occurred at Adobe Systems, Hilton Hotels, Fresh Del Monte and more.

The big drop in the markets, which was the first of 1% or greater in a very long time, no doubt helped the buyers to go in and grab shares. Again, with earnings right around the corner, this week and next may be the last time until May that some have a chance to buy.

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