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Read This Before Buying Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU) Shares

Simply Wall St

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We often see insiders buying up shares in companies that perform well over the long term. 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 we'll take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU).

Do Insider Transactions Matter?

It's quite normal to see company insiders, such as board members, trading in company stock, from time to time. However, such insiders must disclose their trading activities, and not trade on inside information.

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.'

See our latest analysis for Kansas City Southern

Kansas City Southern Insider Transactions Over The Last Year

The Executive VP & Chief Marketing Officer, Michael Naatz, made the biggest insider sale in the last 12 months. That single transaction was for US$441k worth of shares at a price of US$123 each. So it's clear an insider wanted to take some cash off the table, even slightly below the current price of US$123. 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. While insider selling is not a positive sign, we can't be sure if it does mean insiders think the shares are fully valued, so it's only a weak sign. We note that the biggest single sale was only 20.2% of Michael Naatz's holding.

Over the last year we saw more insider selling of Kansas City Southern shares, than buying. You can see the insider transactions (by individuals) over the last year depicted in the chart below. If you click on the chart, you can see all the individual transactions, including the share price, individual, and the date!

NYSE:KSU Recent Insider Trading, July 20th 2019

If you are like me, then you will not want to miss this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Kansas City Southern Insiders Are Selling The Stock

The last three months saw significant insider selling at Kansas City Southern. Specifically, insiders ditched US$681k 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

For a common shareholder, it is worth checking how many shares are held by company insiders. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. Insiders own 0.6% of Kansas City Southern shares, worth about US$72m. We've certainly seen higher levels of insider ownership elsewhere, but these holdings are enough to suggest alignment between insiders and the other shareholders.

So What Do The Kansas City Southern Insider Transactions Indicate?

Insiders haven't bought Kansas City Southern stock in the last three months, but there was some selling. And our longer term analysis of insider transactions didn't bring confidence, either. Insider ownership isn't particularly high, so this analysis makes us cautious about the company. We'd think twice before buying! 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.

Of course Kansas City Southern may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of high quality companies.

For the purposes of this article, insiders are those individuals who report their transactions to the relevant regulatory body.

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.