We've lost count of how many times insiders have accumulated shares in a company that goes on to improve markedly. 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 shareholders might well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling shares in Canadian Utilities Limited (TSE:CU).
What Is Insider Buying?
It is perfectly legal for company insiders, including board members, to buy and sell stock in a company. However, most countries require that the company discloses such transactions to the market.
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'.
Canadian Utilities Insider Transactions Over The Last Year
In the last twelve months, the biggest single sale by an insider was when the insider, Robert Booth, sold CA$536k worth of shares at a price of CA$33.00 per share. So we know that an insider sold shares at around the present share price of CA$32.96. While insider selling is a negative, to us, it is more negative if the shares are sold at a lower price. Given that the sale took place at around current prices, it makes us a little cautious but is hardly a major concern.
All up, insiders sold more shares in Canadian Utilities than they bought, over the last year. You can see the insider transactions (by companies and 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!
If you like to buy stocks that insiders are buying, rather than selling, then you might just love this free list of companies. (Hint: insiders have been buying them).
Insiders at Canadian Utilities Have Sold Stock Recently
The last three months saw significant insider selling at Canadian Utilities. In total, insiders dumped CA$126k worth of shares in that time, and we didn't record any purchases whatsoever. This may suggest that some insiders think that the shares are not cheap.
Another way to test the alignment between the leaders of a company and other shareholders is to look at how many shares they own. I reckon it's a good sign if insiders own a significant number of shares in the company. Canadian Utilities insiders own about CA$81m worth of shares. That equates to 0.9% 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.
What Might The Insider Transactions At Canadian Utilities Tell Us?
Insiders sold Canadian Utilities shares recently, but they didn't buy any. Zooming out, the longer term picture doesn't give us much comfort. Insiders own shares, but we're still pretty cautious, given the history of sales. So we'd only buy after careful consideration. So while it's helpful to know what insiders are doing in terms of buying or selling, it's also helpful to know the risks that a particular company is facing. To that end, you should learn about the 4 warning signs we've spotted with Canadian Utilities (including 1 which doesn't sit too well with us).
But note: Canadian Utilities 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 currently account for open market transactions and private dispositions, but not derivative transactions.
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