Studies show that stocks bought by insiders tend to narrowly outperform the market (read our analysis of studies on insider trading) which we’d attribute to insiders tending to buy when they are confident in the company’s prospects; at other times, it makes more sense for them to diversify away from the company. We also track quarterly 13F filings from hedge funds as part of our work researching investment strategies (we have found, for example, that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds earn an average excess return of 18 percentage points per year). It’s also possible to go through filings from individual managers such as billionaire Dan Loeb of Third Point and look for stocks which company insiders have bought recently as a potential source for investment ideas. Here is our quick take on Third Point’s five largest holdings as of the end of March which at least one insider has bought in the last three months (or see the full list of the fund's stock picks).
While Loeb sold some of his shares of American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG), it was still one of his three largest holdings by market value. Our database shows that one of the company’s Board members bought 10,000 shares in May at an average price of $45.20 per share. While American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) has done well year to date, we think that is still maintains some value prospects given its discount to the book value of its equity (the P/B ratio is 0.8). The company’s reputation is still poor enough that we wouldn’t expect it to trade at book, but we’d still expect this gap to narrow a bit over time. American International Group Inc (NYSE:AIG) had been the most popular stock among hedge funds in the fourth quarter of 2012, but fell to #3 last quarter (find more of hedge funds' favorite stocks).
An insider was buying shares of Murphy Oil Corporation (NYSE:MUR) in May; Third Point’s most recent 13F revealed a position of 2.5 million shares. Murphy Oil Corporation (NYSE:MUR) is a $12 billion market gap oil and gas company, which Loeb is pushing to split its upstream and downstream operation. Spinouts can be potential sources of value creation, as management of the new company can better focus on operations without having to worry about the needs of the larger organization. Learn more about investing in spinouts. As it currently stands, Murphy Oil Corporation (NYSE:MUR) trades at 12 times trailing earnings so it does not require much in improved efficiencies to make it a good value at the current price.