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Read This Before Buying AMETEK, Inc. (NYSE:AME) Shares

Simply Wall St

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We often see insiders buying up shares in companies that perform well over the long term. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of examples of share prices declining precipitously after insiders have sold shares. So before you buy or sell AMETEK, Inc. (NYSE:AME), 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 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.'

See our latest analysis for AMETEK

AMETEK Insider Transactions Over The Last Year

In the last twelve months, the biggest single sale by an insider was when the Independent Director, Elizabeth Varet, sold US$633k worth of shares at a price of US$80.75 per share. So it's clear an insider wanted to take some cash off the table, even below the current price of US$87.02. 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. We note that the biggest single sale was only 2.6% of Elizabeth Varet's holding.

All up, insiders sold more shares in AMETEK 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:AME Recent Insider Trading, May 3rd 2019

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Insiders at AMETEK Have Sold Stock Recently

The last quarter saw substantial insider selling of AMETEK shares. Specifically, insiders ditched US$1.4m 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

Another way to test the alignment between the leaders of a company and other shareholders is to look at how many shares they own. We usually like to see fairly high levels of insider ownership. AMETEK insiders own about US$298m worth of shares (which is 1.5% of the company). I like to see this level of insider ownership, because it increases the chances that management are thinking about the best interests of shareholders.

What Might The Insider Transactions At AMETEK Tell Us?

Insiders sold stock recently, but they haven't been buying. And our longer term analysis of insider transactions didn't bring confidence, either. But it is good to see that AMETEK is growing earnings. It is good to see high insider ownership, but the insider selling leaves us cautious. Of course, the future is what matters most. So if you are interested in AMETEK, you should check out this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

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.