Strong Insider Buying at Three Companies: Are These Stocks Undervalued?

We can now refocus our discussion on the insider buying activity at biotherapeutic company Vital Therapies Inc. (NASDAQ:VTL). General Counsel and Secretary Michael John Dunn purchased a 9,385-share stake at prices of $6.76 and $7 per unit. Furthermore, Director Cheryl Cohen also bought a new stake of 3,500 shares on Monday at a price of $7.17 per share, which is held by a trust fund, Cheryl L. Cohen Trust. Just recently, Vital Therapies Inc. (NASDAQ:VTL) sold 6.27 million shares of its common stock through an underwritten public offering at a price of $5.50 per share. The company that is developing a cell-based therapy aimed at treating liver failure raised roughly $34.5 million in gross proceeds from the offering. It is worth pointing out that the aforementioned insiders acquired the stock through open-market operations at prices above the offering price, which could suggest their confidence in the success of the company’s lead products. In the meantime, the stock is trading nearly 65% above the offering price, but is down 63% year-to-date, mainly owing to its failed Phase 3 trial in alcohol-induced liver decompensation. D.E. Shaw & Co. L.P., founded by David E. Shaw, owned nearly 82,000 shares of Vital Therapies Inc. (NASDAQ:VTL) as of June 30.

SLM Corp (NASDAQ:SLM) is the last company with heavy insider buying activity that is discussed in this article. Charles Laurent Lutz, Secretary, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, bought 7,000 shares on Tuesday at a price of approximately $7 per share, enlarging his overall stake to 1.01 million shares. Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Steven J. McGarry purchased a 7,500-share block at a weighted average price of $7.05, and currently owns 190,216 shares. The saving, planning and paying for education company has seen its stock decline 31% since the beginning of the year, so the executives may be buying shares on weakness at the moment. A little more than a week ago, SLM Corp (NASDAQ:SLM) reported third-quarter earnings per share of $0.10 on revenue of $175.44 million, compared to EPS of $0.17 on revenue of $144.03 million reported a year ago. Even so, the $2.93 billion company beat analysts’ earnings estimates of $0.08 per share. Brookside Capital was among the largest shareholders of SLM Corp (NASDAQ:SLM) at the end of the second quarter, holding a stake of 10.67 million shares.

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