Insiders Are Dumping Shares of These 3 Companies; Should Investors Be Worried?

There is little doubt that tracking insider trading activity should represent a major part of the stock selection process of most investors. Despite the fact that insider buying tends to offer more accurate insights about a company’s prospects than insider selling, the latter type of activity should not be overlooked by any means. Although insiders may sell stock for numerous reasons unrelated to their company’s future prospects, it is highly unlikely that they ignore the timing of their trades. Why would an insider sell stock today if he/she knows that the upcoming earnings report will positively surprise the market? The bottom line is that insiders may unload their holdings when there are no major positive developments expected at their companies in the near future. Having this in mind, this daily article on insider trading activity will discuss the insider sales at three companies.

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Prior to discussing the insider trading activity, let’s make you familiar with what Insider Monkey does besides providing high-quality articles. At Insider Monkey, we track hedge funds’ moves in order to identify actionable patterns and profit from them. Our research has shown that hedge funds’ large-cap stock picks historically underperformed the S&P 500 Total Return Index by an average of seven basis points per month between 1999 and 2012. On the other hand, the 15 most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by an average of 95 basis points per month (read the details here). Since the official launch of our small-cap strategy in August 2012, it has performed just as predicted, returning 102% and beating the market by more than 53 percentage points. We believe the data is clear: investors will be better off by focusing on small-cap stocks utilizing hedge fund expertise (while avoiding their high fees at the same time) rather than large-cap stocks.

Let’s kick off our investigation by examining the insider selling activity at On Assignment Inc. (NYSE:ASGN). Randolph C. Blazer, President of On Assignment’s subsidiary Apex, reported selling 10,000 shares on Thursday at a weighted average price of $46.37, trimming his stake to 75,282 shares. Theodore S. Hanson, Chief Financial Officer of Apex, sold 25,000 shares on the same day at prices ranging from $46.15-to-$46.80, and currently owns 273,459 shares. Edward L. Pierce, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of On Assignment Inc. (NYSE:ASGN), unloaded 20,000 units of common stock on Tuesday at prices between $46.50-and-$46.63. After the recent sale, the CFO currently holds a stake of 59,349 shares. Finally, Director Marty R. Kittrell sold 3,000 shares on Monday at a price of $45.94 per share, remaining with 8,047 shares. The shares of the global provider of in-demand, skilled professionals are nearly 40% in the green year-to-date, partly thanks to the recent rally fueled by the company’s strong third quarter earnings report. The company also raised its fourth quarter revenue guidance to $563 million-to-$568 million, which denotes an increase of $15 million-to-$20 million. Meanwhile, the number of hedge funds that we track which were invested in the stock increased to 20 from 15 during the second quarter. Mariko Gordon’s Daruma Asset Management held a 1.95 million-share stake in On Assignment Inc. (NYSE:ASGN) on June 30.

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The second page of the article discusses the heavy insider selling activity registered at Tanger Factory Outlet Centers and Xcel Energy.

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE:SKT) has seen four different executives unload shares so far this week. Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer James F. Williams sold 6,000 shares on Thursday at a weighted average sale price of $35.15, reducing his holdings to 63,003 shares. Frank C. Marchisello, who has been Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President since November 1994, unloaded a 25,000-share block through multiple transactions at prices ranging between $35.03-and-$35.43 per share. The CFO currently owns 309,304 shares. Senior Vice President Virginia R. Summerell discarded 4,216 shares of common stock on Monday at an average price of $35.33, reducing her stake to 26,648 shares. Last but not least, Carrie A. Geldner, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE:SKT), dumped 1,300 share on Tuesday at prices ranging from $35.24-to-$35.25. After the recent sale, the CMO holds a 50,548-share stake. Despite being down by nearly 5% year-to-date, the shares of the real estate investment trust have been on a steep uptrend since the beginning of September. 15 hedge funds monitored by Insider Monkey owned Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc. (NYSE:SKT) at the end of the second quarter, with Jim Simons’ Renaissance Technologies being among the most bullish, holding a 1.39 million-share position.

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Finally, let’s take a thorough look at the insider selling activity at Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL). David Eves, President of Xcel’s Public Service Company Colorado (PSCo), offloaded 6,698 shares on Tuesday, trimming his stake to 54,762 shares. He also holds 7,252 shares under the Xcel Energy 401(k) Savings Plan. The shares of the well-diversified electric and natural gas utility company are half-a-percent in the green year-to-date and are trading at a trailing P/E ratio of 20.06, slightly below the median of 22.65 for the S&P 500. Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL) intends to add batteries to its grid system in an attempt to store renewable energy, which could eventually allow the company to deliver energy power whenever needed. Let us remind you that the EPA issued the final Clean Power Plan recently, which will force utilities to undertake major adjustments and investments over the coming years in order to reduce carbon emissions. However, Xcel Energy believes that it is “well-positioned to meet the requirements and remains committed to delivering the clean energy options our customers want”. Meanwhile, the stock lost some of its charm among the hedge funds tracked by our team during the second quarter, as the number of top money managers invested in the stock decreased to ten from 19 quarter-over-quarter. Israel Englander’s Millennium Management owned 5.21 million shares of Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEL) at the end of the second quarter.

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