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Have Insiders Been Buying United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:UAL) Shares?

Simply Wall St

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We often see insiders buying up shares in companies that perform well over the long term. The flip side of that is that there are more than a few examples of insiders dumping stock prior to a period of weak performance. So before you buy or sell United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:UAL), you may well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling.

What Is Insider Buying?

It is perfectly legal for company insiders, including board members, to buy and sell stock in a company. However, such insiders must disclose their trading activities, and not trade on inside information.

We would never suggest that investors should base their decisions solely on what the directors of a company have been doing. But logic dictates you should pay some attention to whether insiders are buying or selling shares. 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.'

View our latest analysis for United Continental Holdings

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At United Continental Holdings

Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider purchase was by Edward Shapiro for US$2.8m worth of shares, at about US$92.92 per share. That means that even when the share price was higher than US$77.72 (the recent price), an insider wanted to purchase shares. 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. Generally speaking, it catches our eye when an insider has purchased shares at above current prices, as it suggests they believed the shares were worth buying, even at a higher price. The only individual insider to buy over the last year was Edward Shapiro.

Edward Shapiro purchased 70000 shares over the year. The average price per share was US$83.24. You can see a visual depiction of insider transactions (by individuals) over the last 12 months, below. By clicking on the graph below, you can see the precise details of each insider transaction!

NasdaqGS:UAL Recent Insider Trading, June 4th 2019

There are always plenty of stocks that insiders are buying. So if that suits your style you could check each stock one by one or you could take a look at this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

Insiders at United Continental Holdings Have Sold Stock Recently

The last three months saw significant insider selling at United Continental Holdings. In total, Executive VP & COO Gregory Hart dumped US$448k worth of shares in that time, and we didn't record any purchases whatsoever. Overall this makes us a bit cautious, but it's not the be all and end all.

Insider Ownership of United Continental Holdings

Looking at the total insider shareholdings in a company can help to inform your view of whether they are well aligned with common shareholders. I reckon it's a good sign if insiders own a significant number of shares in the company. It appears that United Continental Holdings insiders own 0.4% of the company, worth about US$77m. This level of insider ownership is good but just short of being particularly stand-out. It certainly does suggest a reasonable degree of alignment.

So What Do The United Continental Holdings Insider Transactions Indicate?

An insider hasn't bought United Continental Holdings stock in the last three months, but there was some selling. In contrast, they appear keener if you look at the last twelve months. We like that insiders own a fair amount of the company. So we're happy enough to look past some selling. 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.