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Should You Be Worried About Insider Transactions At Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (TSE:FFH)?

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 Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited (TSE:FFH).

Do Insider Transactions Matter?

Most investors know that it is quite permissible for company leaders, such as directors of the board, to buy and sell stock on the market. 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.'

See our latest analysis for Fairfax Financial Holdings

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At Fairfax Financial Holdings

Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider sale was by the , Andrew Barnard, for CA$2.0m worth of shares, at about CA$611 per share. That means that an insider was selling shares at slightly below the current price (CA$641). 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. Please do note, however, that sellers may have a variety of reasons for selling, so we don't know for sure what they think of the stock price. It is worth noting that this sale was only 6.2% of Andrew Barnard's holding. Andrew Barnard was the only individual insider to sell over the last year.

You can see the insider transactions (by individuals) over the last year depicted in the chart below. By clicking on the graph below, you can see the precise details of each insider transaction!

TSX:FFH Recent Insider Trading, June 14th 2019

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

Fairfax Financial Holdings Insiders Are Selling The Stock

Over the last three months, we've seen notably more insider selling, than insider buying, at Fairfax Financial Holdings. We note Andrew Barnard cashed in US$2.0m worth of shares. Meanwhile Christine McLean bought US$7.7k worth. Since the selling really does outweigh the buying, we'd say that these transactions may suggest that some insiders feel the shares are not cheap.

Does Fairfax Financial Holdings Boast High Insider Ownership?

Many investors like to check how much of a company is owned by insiders. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. Fairfax Financial Holdings insiders own 7.9% of the company, currently worth about CA$1.4b 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.

So What Does This Data Suggest About Fairfax Financial Holdings Insiders?

The insider sales have outweighed the insider buying, at Fairfax Financial Holdings, in the last three months. And our longer term analysis of insider transactions didn't bring confidence, either. 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: Fairfax Financial Holdings 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.

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.