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Are Insiders Selling The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY) Stock?

Simply Wall St

We've lost count of how many times insiders have accumulated shares in a company that goes on to improve markedly. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of examples of share prices declining precipitously after insiders have sold shares. So before you buy or sell The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY), you may well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling.

Do Insider Transactions Matter?

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.

Insider transactions are not the most important thing when it comes to long-term investing. But logic dictates you should pay some attention to whether insiders are buying or selling shares. For example, a Harvard University study found that 'insider purchases earn abnormal returns of more than 6% per year.

View our latest analysis for Hershey

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At Hershey

Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider sale was by the Independent Director, Anthony Palmer, for US$652k worth of shares, at about US$130 per share. That means that even when the share price was below the current price of US$143, an insider wanted to cash in some shares. As a general rule we consider it to be discouraging when insiders are selling below the current price, because it suggests they were happy with a lower valuation. However, while insider selling is sometimes discouraging, it's only a weak signal. This single sale was just 33% of Anthony Palmer's stake.

Happily, we note that in the last year insiders paid US$617k for 5100 shares. On the other hand they divested 5724 shares, for US$731k. In total, Hershey insiders sold more than they bought over the last year. The chart below shows insider transactions (by individuals) over the last year. By clicking on the graph below, you can see the precise details of each insider transaction!

NYSE:HSY Recent Insider Trading, October 26th 2019

If you like to buy stocks that insiders are buying, rather than selling, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).

Insider Ownership of Hershey

Another way to test the alignment between the leaders of a company and other shareholders is to look at how many shares they own. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. It appears that Hershey insiders own 0.3% of the company, worth about US$93m. We've certainly seen higher levels of insider ownership elsewhere, but these holdings are enough to suggest alignment between insiders and the other shareholders.

What Might The Insider Transactions At Hershey Tell Us?

It doesn't really mean much that no insider has traded Hershey shares in the last quarter. We don't take much encouragement from the transactions by Hershey insiders. But it's good to see that insiders own shares in the company. 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.

For the purposes of this article, insiders are those individuals who report their transactions to the relevant regulatory body. We currently account for open market transactions and private dispositions, but not derivative transactions.

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.