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Read This Before Buying Total System Services, Inc. (NYSE:TSS) Shares

Simply Wall St

We've lost count of how many times insiders have accumulated shares in a company that goes on to improve markedly. 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 Total System Services, Inc. (NYSE:TSS).

What Is Insider Buying?

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.

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. As Peter Lynch said, 'insiders might sell their shares for any number of reasons, but they buy them for only one: they think the price will rise.'

See our latest analysis for Total System Services

Total System Services Insider Transactions Over The Last Year

Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider sale was by the Chairman, M. Woods, for US$4.4m worth of shares, at about US$91.23 per share. That means that an insider was selling shares at slightly below the current price (US$98.39). When an insider sells below the current price, it suggests that they considered that lower price to be fair. That makes us wonder what they think of the (higher) recent valuation. However, while insider selling is sometimes discouraging, it's only a weak signal. We note that the biggest single sale was only 8.5% of M. Woods's holding.

We note that in the last year insiders divested 102k shares for a total of US$9.4m. In the last year Total System Services insiders didn't buy any company stock. 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:TSS Recent Insider Trading, April 13th 2019

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Insiders at Total System Services Have Sold Stock Recently

The last quarter saw substantial insider selling of Total System Services shares. Specifically, insiders ditched US$8.9m 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 directors think that the shares are a bargain.

Insider Ownership

For a common shareholder, it is worth checking how many shares are held by company insiders. I reckon it's a good sign if insiders own a significant number of shares in the company. It's great to see that Total System Services insiders own 1.5% of the company, worth about US$256m. 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 Total System Services Tell Us?

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. It is good to see high insider ownership, but the insider selling leaves us cautious. 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: Total System Services 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.