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We often see insiders buying up shares in companies that perform well over the long term. 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 we'll take a look at whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK).
What Is Insider Selling?
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 it is perfectly logical to keep tabs on what insiders are doing. 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.'
The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At Merck
Over the last year, we can see that the biggest insider sale was by the Senior VP of Finance & Global Controller, Rita Karachun, for US$325k worth of shares, at about US$65.01 per share. That means that even when the share price was below the current price of US$82.78, an insider wanted to cash in some shares. We generally consider it a negative if insiders have been selling on market, especially if they did so below the current price, because it implies that they considered a lower price to be reasonable. 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 23.6% of Rita Karachun's holding. Rita Karachun was the only individual insider to sell over the last year.
You can see a visual depiction of insider transactions (by individuals) over the last 12 months, below. If you want to know exactly who sold, for how much, and when, simply click on the graph below!
I will like Merck better if I see some big insider buys. While we wait, check out this free list of growing companies with considerable, recent, insider buying.
Does Merck Boast High Insider Ownership?
Another way to test the alignment between the leaders of a company and other shareholders is to look at how many shares they own. We usually like to see fairly high levels of insider ownership. Merck insiders own about US$135m worth of shares (which is 0.06% of the company). This kind of significant ownership by insiders does generally increase the chance that the company is run in the interest of all shareholders.
So What Does This Data Suggest About Merck Insiders?
There haven't been any insider transactions in the last three months -- that doesn't mean much. While we feel good about high insider ownership of Merck, we can't say the same about the selling of shares. 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.
If you would prefer to check out another company -- one with potentially superior financials -- then do not miss this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity 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 email@example.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.