Finding a reliable stock strategy is a key to sanity in this Age of Coronavirus. The pandemic has pushed governments to impost extreme economic shutdown orders, as part of a larger society ‘stay at home’ policy. The result has been a stoppage of business, a decline in earnings, and a sudden sharp turn from steady economic growth to a deep recessionary event, perhaps even a Depression. And so, for investors, a reliable stock strategy is both necessary and hard to find.
One strategy is to follow the insiders. Insiders are the corporate officers and board members charged with running and overseeing public companies. Their positions give them access to information that’s not always available to the general public. To keep the playing field honest, Federal regulators require that insiders publish their trades – and that information can be used by the general public for trading purposes.
When the insiders make large purchases, laying down large sums for hefty blocs of shares, it can be taken as a clear sign of confidence. So following their purchases is a viable strategy for finding potentially profitable stock plays.
TipRanks has the tools to help you do just that. The Insiders’ Hot Stocks page shows which stocks top insiders are most active on, for both purchases and sales. You can sort insider trades by a variety of filters, including trading strategy. We’ve done some of the legwork for you, and pulled up three stocks with recent informative buy-side transactions. Here are the results.
Microchip Technology (MCHP)
We’ll start in the semiconductor chip industry. Microchip is a major name in the industry, boasting a market cap of $21.5 billion and the sixth largest sales share among its peers. The company’s focus is on microcontroller and microprocessor chips for memory solutions, power managements apps, and wireless connection devices. These are essential components in today’s digital world – Microchip never has a problem finding customers.
Two important company officers have bought up large blocs of shares in recent days. First up was Steve Sanghi, CEO and Chairman, who put down $3.1 million to buy 37,000 shares. Also buying shares was Senior VP Richard Simoncic, who bought over 6,000 shares for more than $501K. This is a substantial fraction of his total $4.8 million holding.
The calendar Q1 performance shows the company’s quality. MCHP reported strong EPS, of $1.46, beating the forecast by over 6%. Revenues, while missing the estimates, did grow over 3% sequentially, to $1.33 billion. Management attributed the mixed results to the impact of coronavirus on demand – weak demand in the automotive, industrial, and consumer segments meant that those manufacturers in turn had weak demand for Microchip’s products. At the same time, communication and data center demand grew, as a direct result of the move toward remote office work and customer service.
Writing on the stock for Piper Sandler, 5-star analyst Harsh Kumar notes that Microchip’s forward guidance was squarely in line with expectations, and that the company is taking a cautious approach to the 2020 sales environment. Kumar writes, “Looking to the mid and long-term, we continue to like Microchip, as it remains one of the best positioned and most profitable semiconductor companies. Even in the current environment, free cash flow and debt pay down were both exceptional.”
Kumar places a Buy rating on MCHP shares, and that backs that with a $120 price target suggesting a 36% upside potential for the coming 12 months. (To watch Kumar’s track record, click here)
The Strong Buy analyst consensus rating on this stock is based on 16 reviews, including 13 Buys and 3 Holds. Shares are priced at $87.81, while the average target of $102.56 implies a 16% upside potential. (See Microchip stock analysis on TipRanks)
Last on today’s list is Arconic, a name you may not have heard of in its current incarnation. This company is a spin-off from the aluminum giant Alcoa. Arconic became an independent entity, controlling the parent company’s bauxite and aluminum operations, last November. The new company’s focus is lightweight metals engineering and precision manufacturing. Arconic’s products are used in the aerospace, automotive, commercial transport, defense, electronics, and oil and gas fields. Arconic is particularly well-known for turbine blades. ARNC shares started trading this past March. Since it opened trading less than three months ago, ARCN shares are up 46%.
In recent days, no fewer than 5 of Arconic’s insiders have bought up blocs of shares. The prices paid ranged from $114,000 to $346,000. The two largest purchases were by directors: William Austen bought 17,620 shares for $202,000, and Frederick Henderson bought 33,200 shares for $346,000. These purchases are a clear indicator for investors that this company’s officers are confident in its future.
Also confident is Credit Suisse analyst Curt Woodworth, who writes, “ARNC is a high-quality producer of aluminum alloy rolled products with significant leverage to secular growth in automotive and packaging, and a LT recovery in aerospace. We see 3Q as a major inflection point as Ford and GM truck / SUV production sharply accelerates and OEMs need to restock heat-treat plate, which has limited shelf life.”
Woodworth puts a $22 price target on ARNC shares, implying a strong 71% upside as he initiates coverage on this new industrial stock. (To watch Woodworth’s track record, click here)
While ARNC has only two recent reviews (it is a new stock, after all), they combine to a Moderate Buy rating. Shares are selling for $12.84, after two months of solid gains, and the average price target of $19.50 suggests the stock has room for a 51% upside this year. (See Arconic stock analysis on TipRanks)
Clipper Realty, Inc. (CLPR)
Next up is a real estate investment trust (REIT). These companies typically offer investors a solid combination of firm financial and reliable dividends. Clipper Realty owns, manages and operates commercial properties and multi-family residential (that’s apartments) properties, in and around the New York City area.
Two insiders have made informative buys here in the past 7 days. The larger purchase was by David Bistricer, a director of the company. He bought up 106,666 shares for $611,000. His Board colleague, Sam Levinson, made a smaller purchase of 14,334 shares, paying over $82,000.
CLPR showed $30.9 million in revenue for Q1 2020, up more than 11% from the year before. Net operating income, at $17.1 million, was a company record – but better for investors, was also up 16% year-over-year.
The strong income supported a dividend of 9.5 cents per share for the quarter. CLPR’s dividend has been steady for the past three years, and the current payout ratio, of 73%, is a clear attraction for investors interested in an income stock. The yield, at 5.6%, is almost triple the average yield among financial sector peers.
The stock has only one recent analyst review, by B. Riley FBR analyst Craig Kucera, but he wears his bullishness on his sleeve. His Buy rating is backed up with a $14 price target – which implies a robust 107% one-year upside potential. (To watch Kucera’s track record, click here)
Kucera writes of CLPR, “1Q20 results were ahead of expectations, and April cash rent collections from CLPR's diversified portfolio of residential, office, and retail assets located in the greater NYC metro were at 94%... we believe CLPR's decision to significantly increase its liquidity during a challenging NYC commercial real estate environment related to COVID-19 was prudent.”
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