It is not uncommon to see companies perform well in the years after insiders buy shares. 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 before you buy or sell First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME), you may well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling.
What Is Insider Selling?
It is perfectly legal for company insiders, including board members, to buy and sell stock in a company. However, rules govern insider transactions, and certain disclosures are required.
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'.
The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At First Merchants
The Independent Director Michael Marhenke made the biggest insider purchase in the last 12 months. That single transaction was for US$337k worth of shares at a price of US$33.66 each. So it's clear an insider wanted to buy, even at a higher price than the current share price (being US$25.25). While their view may have changed since the purchase was made, this does at least suggest they have had confidence in the company's future. In our view, the price an insider pays for shares is very important. It is generally more encouraging if they paid above the current price, as it suggests they saw value, even at higher levels.
Happily, we note that in the last year insiders paid US$888k for 30.70k shares. On the other hand they divested 25.96k shares, for US$861k. In the last twelve months there was more buying than selling by First Merchants insiders. Their average price was about US$28.93. These transactions suggest that insiders have considered the current price attractive. The chart below shows insider transactions (by companies and individuals) over the last year. If you click on the chart, you can see all the individual transactions, including the share price, individual, and the date!
There are always plenty of stocks that insiders are buying. So if that suits your style you could check each stock one by one or you could take a look at this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Are First Merchants Insiders Buying Or Selling?
Independent Director Patrick Sherman bought just US$1.5k worth of shares in that time. That's not much at all. Overall, we don't think these recent trades are particularly informative, one way or the other.
I like to look at how many shares insiders own in a company, to help inform my view of how aligned they are with insiders. Usually, the higher the insider ownership, the more likely it is that insiders will be incentivised to build the company for the long term. First Merchants insiders own about US$19m worth of shares. That equates to 1.4% of the company. This level of insider ownership is good but just short of being particularly stand-out. It certainly does suggest a reasonable degree of alignment.
So What Do The First Merchants Insider Transactions Indicate?
Our data shows a little insider buying, but no selling, in the last three months. The net investment is not enough to encourage us much. On a brighter note, the transactions over the last year are encouraging. Overall we don't see anything to make us think First Merchants insiders are doubting the company, and they do own shares. While we like knowing what's going on with the insider's ownership and transactions, we make sure to also consider what risks are facing a stock before making any investment decision. To that end, you should learn about the 2 warning signs we've spotted with First Merchants (including 1 which can't be ignored).
Of course, you might find a fantastic investment by looking elsewhere. So take a peek at this free list of interesting companies.
For the purposes of this article, insiders are those individuals who report their transactions to the relevant regulatory body. We currently account for open market transactions and private dispositions, but not derivative transactions.
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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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