Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) plunged 16% on June 7th after the company filed an 8-K related to its discussions with the IRS. First, the records management and data protection services company’s request for a certain Private Letter Ruling (PLR) which would allow it to qualify for conversion to a real estate investment trust (namely, a ruling which would classify Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM)’s racking structures as real estate) has been met with a “tentatively adverse” reaction. This can often mean that the IRS has not made a decision yet, but the 8-K also disclosed that Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) has learned that the IRS has convened an internal working group to study its definition of real estate for REIT related purposes. This may well lead to a stricter definition. Bulls had expected that Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM) might have smoother sailing towards REIT status; as a result, the report from the company caused a steep fall in the stock price.
Brian McKeon, the CFO of Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE:IRM), has reacted fairly quickly to the market’s response. On June 7th, he directly purchased 3,600 shares of the stock at an average price of $28.61 per share (the stock closed just below $29). This gives him nearly 11,000 shares in total, making it a significant percentage increase in his holdings. Studies show that stocks bought by insiders exhibit a small outperformance effect (read our analysis of studies on insider trading). We think that this is because buying the stock increases an insider’s company-specific risk (since they already earn income from the company) and so insiders should diversify their wealth unless they are fairly confident in the company’s prospects.
The company had reported flat revenue in the first quarter of 2013 versus a year earlier, with a 34% decline in pretax income as operating costs increased- though cash flow from operations were up. Wall Street analysts expect earnings per share to pick up going forward, but even so the stock trades at 21 times expected earnings for 2014. As a result we think that the price actually still includes some option value from an REIT conversion.
In addition to insider trading activity, we track quarterly 13F filings from hundreds of hedge funds and other notable investors. We’ve found that this information can be useful in developing investment strategies (for example, the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds outperform the S&P 500 by an average of 18 percentage points per year) and in tracking hedge fund activity over time. Renaissance Technologies, founded by billionaire Jim Simons, had reported a position of 1.5 million shares as of the end of March (see Renaissance’s stock picks).