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Could The Tocagen Inc. (NASDAQ:TOCA) Ownership Structure Tell Us Something Useful?

Simply Wall St

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The big shareholder groups in Tocagen Inc. (NASDAQ:TOCA) have power over the company. Insiders often own a large chunk of younger, smaller, companies while huge companies tend to have institutions as shareholders. I quite like to see at least a little bit of insider ownership. As Charlie Munger said 'Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome.'

With a market capitalization of US$153m, Tocagen is a small cap stock, so it might not be well known by many institutional investors. In the chart below below, we can see that institutions are noticeable on the share registry. We can zoom in on the different ownership groups, to learn more about TOCA.

View our latest analysis for Tocagen

NasdaqGS:TOCA Ownership Summary, June 27th 2019

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Tocagen?

Institutions typically measure themselves against a benchmark when reporting to their own investors, so they often become more enthusiastic about a stock once it's included in a major index. We would expect most companies to have some institutions on the register, especially if they are growing.

As you can see, institutional investors own 38% of Tocagen. This suggests some credibility amongst professional investors. But we can't rely on that fact alone, since institutions make bad investments sometimes, just like everyone does. It is not uncommon to see a big share price drop if two large institutional investors try to sell out of a stock at the same time. So it is worth checking the past earnings trajectory of Tocagen, (below). Of course, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider, too.

NasdaqGS:TOCA Income Statement, June 27th 2019

Hedge funds don't have many shares in Tocagen. There are plenty of analysts covering the stock, so it might be worth seeing what they are forecasting, too.

Insider Ownership Of Tocagen

While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.

Most consider insider ownership a positive because it can indicate the board is well aligned with other shareholders. However, on some occasions too much power is concentrated within this group.

Our most recent data indicates that insiders own some shares in Tocagen Inc.. As individuals, the insiders collectively own US$10m worth of the US$153m company. Some would say this shows alignment of interests between shareholders and the board, though I generally prefer to see bigger insider holdings. But it might be worth checking if those insiders have been selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public, who are mostly retail investors, collectively hold 56% of Tocagen shares. This size of ownership gives retail investors collective power. They can and probably do influence decisions on executive compensation, dividend policies and proposed business acquisitions.

Next Steps:

While it is well worth considering the different groups that own a company, there are other factors that are even more important.

I like to dive deeper into how a company has performed in the past. You can access this interactive graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow, for free .

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.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

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.