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Read This Before Buying American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) Shares

Simply Wall St

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We often see insiders buying up shares in companies that perform well over the long term. On the other hand, we'd be remiss not to mention that insider sales have been known to precede tough periods for a business. So shareholders might well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in American Express Company (NYSE:AXP).

Do Insider Transactions Matter?

It is perfectly legal for company insiders, including board members, to buy and sell stock in a company. However, rules govern insider transactions, and certain disclosures are required.

We don't think shareholders should simply follow insider transactions. 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.'

Check out our latest analysis for American Express

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At American Express

Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider sale was by the Executive VP, Richard Petrino, for US$262k worth of shares, at about US$107 per share. That means that even when the share price was below the current price of US$123, an insider wanted to cash in some shares. We generally consider it a negative if insiders have been selling on market, especially if they did so below the current price, because it implies that they considered a lower price to be reasonable. However, while insider selling is sometimes discouraging, it's only a weak signal. It is worth noting that this sale was only 23.5% of Richard Petrino's holding. The only individual insider seller over the last year was Richard Petrino.

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:AXP Recent Insider Trading, June 12th 2019

I will like American Express better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.

Insider Ownership of American Express

Looking at the total insider shareholdings in a company can help to inform your view of whether they are well aligned with common shareholders. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. American Express insiders own 0.3% of the company, currently worth about US$264m based on the recent share price. Most shareholders would be happy to see this sort of insider ownership, since it suggests that management incentives are well aligned with other shareholders.

What Might The Insider Transactions At American Express Tell Us?

There haven't been any insider transactions in the last three months -- that doesn't mean much. While we feel good about high insider ownership of American Express, we can't say the same about the selling of shares. Therefore, you should should definitely take a look at this FREE report showing analyst forecasts for American Express.

But note: American Express 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.

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.