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 before you buy or sell eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ:EHTH), you may well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling.
Do Insider Transactions Matter?
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.
We would never suggest that investors should base their decisions solely on what the directors of a company have been doing. But equally, we would consider it foolish to ignore insider transactions altogether. For example, a Columbia University study found that 'insiders are more likely to engage in open market purchases of their own company’s stock when the firm is about to reveal new agreements with customers and suppliers'.
The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At eHealth
The CEO & Director Scott Flanders made the biggest insider purchase in the last 12 months. That single transaction was for US$3.6m worth of shares at a price of US$73.90 each. That means that even when the share price was higher than US$62.24 (the recent price), an insider wanted to purchase shares. It's very possible they regret the purchase, but it's more likely they are bullish about the company. 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.
Over the last year, we can see that insiders have bought 52.95k shares worth US$3.8m. But they sold 39.06k shares for US$4.7m. Over the last year we saw more insider selling of eHealth shares, than buying. You can see the insider transactions (by companies and individuals) over the last year depicted in the chart below. If you click on the chart, you can see all the individual transactions, including the share price, individual, and the date!
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).
Insider Ownership of eHealth
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. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. Insiders own 4.4% of eHealth shares, worth about US$72m. While this is a strong but not outstanding level of insider ownership, it's enough to indicate some alignment between management and smaller shareholders.
So What Do The eHealth Insider Transactions Indicate?
The fact that there have been no eHealth insider transactions recently certainly doesn't bother us. Our analysis of eHealth insider transactions leaves us cautious. But we do like the fact that insiders own a fair chunk of the company. So these insider transactions can help us build a thesis about the stock, but it's also worthwhile knowing the risks facing this company. Our analysis shows 4 warning signs for eHealth (1 can't be ignored!) and we strongly recommend you look at them before investing.
But note: eHealth 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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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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