It is not uncommon to see companies perform well in the years after insiders buy shares. 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 MSA Safety Incorporated (NYSE:MSA), you may well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling.
What Is Insider Selling?
It is perfectly legal for company insiders, including board members, to buy and sell stock in a company. However, most countries require that the company discloses such transactions to the market.
We would never suggest that investors should base their decisions solely on what the directors of a company have been doing. But equally, we would consider it foolish to ignore insider transactions altogether. For example, a Harvard University study found that 'insider purchases earn abnormal returns of more than 6% per year.'
The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At MSA Safety
The insider, L. Shaw, made the biggest insider sale in the last 12 months. That single transaction was for US$5.2m worth of shares at a price of US$104 each. That means that an insider was selling shares at below the current price (US$105). We generally consider it a negative if insiders have been selling, especially if they did so below the current price, because it implies that they considered a lower price to be reasonable. Please do note, however, that sellers may have a variety of reasons for selling, so we don't know for sure what they think of the stock price. We note that the biggest single sale was only 8.8% of L. Shaw's holding.
In the last twelve months insiders netted US$12m for 119k shares sold. MSA Safety insiders didn't buy any shares over the last year. You can see the insider transactions (by individuals) over the last year depicted in the chart below. If you want to know exactly who sold, for how much, and when, simply click on the graph below!
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).
MSA Safety Insiders Are Selling The Stock
The last quarter saw substantial insider selling of MSA Safety shares. In total, insiders dumped US$611k worth of shares in that time, and we didn't record any purchases whatsoever. In light of this it's hard to argue that all the insiders think that the shares are a bargain.
I like to look at how many shares insiders own in a company, to help inform my view of how aligned they are with insiders. We usually like to see fairly high levels of insider ownership. MSA Safety insiders own 7.8% of the company, currently worth about US$316m based on the recent share price. This kind of significant ownership by insiders does generally increase the chance that the company is run in the interest of all shareholders.
So What Does This Data Suggest About MSA Safety Insiders?
Insiders sold stock recently, but they haven't been buying. And even if we look to the last year, we didn't see any purchases. But it is good to see that MSA Safety is growing earnings. The company boasts high insider ownership, but we're a little hesitant, given the history of share sales. 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.
But note: MSA Safety may not be the best stock to buy. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies with high ROE 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.
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If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at email@example.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.