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Massive Biotech Trade Highlights Insider Selling: Esperion Therapeutics, Adobe, Hilton, Fresh Del Monte and More

Lee Jackson

A wild and woolly week gave investors more of a roller-coaster ride than we have seen in some time. Toss a big sell-off in with a terror attack in London, and worries over the health care bill in its current form, and you had all of the ingredients for a spike in volatility. While the insider selling slowed somewhat, top executives are still taking the chance to sell shares before the windows for trading start to close for earnings.

We cover insider selling every week at 24/7 Wall St., and we like to always remind readers that just because an individual or 10% institutional owner sells stock, that is no cause for immediate alarm. Many top executives, and even directors, are compensated with stock and often sell just to diversify portfolios or purchase other assets.

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Here are companies that reported notable insider selling this past week.

Two directors at red-hot biotech company Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (ESPR) took advantage of the big run in the shares to sell some stock. The pair combined to sell a total of 837,358 shares of the company at prices that ranged from $38.75 to $46.38 per share. The total for the sale was posted at $33 million. The shares closed Friday at $38.94. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $9.40 to $48.21, and the Wall Street consensus price target is $44.20.

Adobe Systems Inc. (ADBE) had a director selling stock last week. That board member sold a total of 59,550 shares of the tech giant at prices that ranged from $125.80 to $126.23 apiece. The total for the trade came in at $8 million. Adobe closed Friday at a$127.70, in a 52-week range of $90.35 to $130.30. The consensus price objective is $141.09.

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A 10% owner of Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE:H) was selling some stock this past week. Elsinore Trust parted with a total of 108,815 shares at prices between $52.37 and $53.34. That netted the trust some $2.7 million. The stock closed last Friday at $52.62. The 52-week range for the hotel chain is $44.30 to $58.05, while the consensus price target is $56.44.

The man at the top of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (FDP) was selling stock last week. Chairman and CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh shed a block of 50,000 shares at prices that ranged from $57.85 to $58.46 apiece. The total was listed at $2.9 million. The stock ended the week at $58.31, in a 52-week range of $41.70 to $66.86. The consensus price target is $70.30.

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Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE) had the president of the company selling some stock. Arnold Block parted with 63,648 shares of the gaming company at $26.20 per share. The total for the sale came to $2 million. He was joined by CEO Eric Hausler and the chief legal officer, Edmund Quatmann, who together sold 163,949 shares for between $26.02 and $26.26. Their trades totaled $4 million. The shares closed on Friday at $25.45, so well-timed trades indeed. The 52-week trading range is $13.01 to $26.89, and the consensus price objective is $23.

These companies also reported insider selling last week: National Fuel Gas Co. (NFG), Prologis Inc. (PLD), Realty Income Corp. (NYSE: O), Ulta Beauty Inc. (ULTA) and Versartis Inc. (VSAR).

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Overall volume is slowing as we creep toward the beginning of first-quarter earnings reporting, but we could see a spike this coming week as many of the windows for insiders to complete transactions will be closing soon.

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