Higher Rates Fail To Scare Away These Companies’ Insiders

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The Federal Reserve has raised short-term interest rates for the first times since June 2006, putting an end to its cheap-money ‘era’. It remains to see how the U.S. economy manages to endure a rising interest rate environment and how global investors who poured capital into emerging markets will adjust their investment decisions. Analysts believe that this historic decision will be followed by wild swings in equity markets, but some companies’ insiders do not seem to be bothered by the potential increased volatility. Numerous companies have recently reported noteworthy insider buys, so this article will discuss the insider buying activity registered at three U.S.-listed companies. As a general rule, insider buying is perceived as a bullish signal by most market participants, as it hard to believe that an insider would invest his or her hard-earned capital without expecting price appreciation. So let’s proceed with the discussion of the insider buys registered at those three companies.

Most investors can’t outperform the stock market by individually picking stocks because stock returns aren’t evenly distributed. A randomly picked stock has only a 35% to 45% chance (depending on the investment horizon) to outperform the market. There are a few exceptions, one of which is when it comes to purchases made by corporate insiders. Academic research has shown that certain insider purchases historically outperformed the market by an average of seven percentage points per year. This effect is more pronounced in small-cap stocks. Another exception is the small-cap stock picks of hedge funds. Our research has shown that the 15 most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds outperformed the market by nearly a percentage point per month between 1999 and 2012. We have been forward testing the performance of these stock picks since the end of August 2012 and they have returned 102% over the ensuing 38 months, outperforming the S&P 500 Index by more than 53 percentage points (read more details here). The trick is focusing only on the best small-cap stock picks of funds, not their large-cap stock picks which are extensively covered by analysts and followed by almost everybody.

Let’s kick off our discussion by analyzing the insider buying activity reported at Cousins Properties Inc. (NYSE:CUZ). Chairman S. Taylor Glover purchased 50,000 shares on Monday at prices that ranged from $8.96-to-$9.00 per share, lifting his holding to 468,667 shares. The shares of this self-managed real estate investment trust are down 17% for the year and are trading at a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 22.02, which is slightly below the average of 22.73 for the companies included in the S&P 500 Index. The REIT mainly owns and manages Class A office properties and opportunistic mixed-use properties in Sunbelt markets, as its portfolio includes interests in 16 operating office properties, two operating mixed-used properties, and three projects under development. Cousins Properties Inc. (NYSE:CUZ)’s rental property revenues for the nine months that ended September 30 totaled $207.46 million, which were up from $202.40 million reported for the same period a year ago. This figure increased mainly due to higher occupancy rates, increased recoveries, and acquisitions of Northpark and Fifth Third Center. At the same time, the REIT has an aggregate indebtedness to third parties of $227.2 million as of September 30, a portion of which is subject to variable interest rates. Neil Chriss’ Hutchin Hill Capital upped its stake in Cousins Properties Inc. (NYSE:CUZ) by 12% during the third quarter to 3.36 million shares.

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The second page of this insider trading article discusses the insider buys reported at W. R. Grace & Co (NYSE:GRA) and Spirit Airlines Incorporated (NASDAQ:SAVE).

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