Curious how well insiders are doing with their buys? Scroll the significant buys of the last year.

This was certainly an interesting week.  The Nasdaq Generals got a dressing down from their leader, the general market investing public. They said loud and clear that if you insiders are selling droves of your stock, you better give us a better explanation why we shouldn’t be too.  Since dividends are rare and the only benefit of holding these highflyers is that their actual free cash flow-making abilities might one day catch up with their inflated stock price, investors seemed to all arrive at the same point at the same time- SELL NOW.

Now I don’t expect the bulls to give up their ground without a deathmatch fight for surely that’s what it is. It will take another extraneous event, not just the Fed raising rates incrementally by baby steps 3 or even four more times although 2% money markets would be a slap across the face to silicon valley set that is used to printing money with their stock options and grants.  I have no idea what the next shoe to drop could be but if there is one, there is more room to fall.  Let’s say earnings start to disappoint and we’ll find that out soon enough.  No one quite grasps the pull forward demand or the pent-up demand created by the pandemic but stock prices have a way of finding the truth better than you or I.  Delta stock has been rising in the face of an increasingly viral Omicron which leads me to believe pent-up demand for travel is there while work at home computers and software names and fintech are falling down to earth.  Maybe that’s something to think about.

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Graves Andrew E
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-01-04  Shares Bought: 2,000 Average Price Paid: $104.74 Cost: $209,480

Name: Orthwein Peter Busch
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-12-10 Shares Bought: 10,000 Average Price Paid: $103.41 Cost: $1,034,100

Name: Huntington Amelia
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-12-27 Shares Bought: 500 Average Price Paid: $100.89 Cost: $50,445
Company: Thor Industries Inc. (THO)
Thor Industries, Inc. designs, manufactures, and sells recreational vehicles (RVs), and related parts and accessories in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The company offers travel trailers; gasoline and diesel Class A, Class B, and Class C motorhomes; conventional travel trailers and fifth wheels; luxury fifth wheels; and motor caravans, caravans, campervans, and urban vehicles. It also provides aluminum extrusion and specialized component products to RV and other manufacturers, and digital products and services for RVs. The company provides its products through independent and non-franchise dealers. The company was founded in 1980 and is based in Elkhart, Indiana. In 1980, THOR Industries embarked on a journey to connect people with nature, and families with each other. Today, the THOR Family of Companies continues the journey by acquiring outstanding outdoor companies which make it easier and more enjoyable for families of all types to create lasting outdoor memories. On the surface, they are the world’s largest manufacturer of recreation vehicles. But in reality, they are so much more. Their family of companies makes it easier and more enjoyable for families like yours to connect with nature—and each other. Together they can Go Everywhere; Stay Anywhere. THOR has grown both organically and through strategic acquisitions in both recreational vehicles (RVs) and buses. Today, the THOR Family of Companies is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of recreational vehicles. Over the years THOR has received many honors for its growth and management success and has become one of the most admired and respected companies, not only in the RV industry but in global business.

Mr. Graves, serves as Chairman of the Board, having been appointed to this position in August of 2019, and is the Company’s first independent Chairman. Mr. Graves became a Director in December of 2010. Mr. Graves’ most recently served as President and CEO of privately held Motorsport Aftermarket Group (MAG) for four years, where he broadened his consumer durables experience beyond the recreational boat market and into the Powersports marketplace. Additionally, MAG’s distribution and e-commerce businesses, as well as the company’s brand portfolio of leading aftermarket accessory products, focused beyond new unit sales and into aftermarket sales and service. These industries have significant parallels to the RV industry, allowing Andy to offer unique insights to the Thor leadership team.

Mr. Orthwein, a co-founder of the Company, currently serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Board, having been appointed to this position in August of 2019 after serving as Executive Chairman. He retired from his position as Executive Chairman with the Company in 2019. Mr. Orthwein has served as a Director of the Company since its inception, Chairman of the Company from 1980 to 1986, Vice Chairman of the Company from 1986 to November of 2009, and Treasurer of the Company from 1980 to November of 2009. The Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and Board believe that his extensive experience with the Company and the industry make him an asset to the Board.

Ms. Huntington, who became a Director in October of 2018, served as the Chief Executive Officer of Philips Lighting Americas, a leading manufacturer of commercial and residential lighting solutions, until January of 2018, after serving as Chief Executive Officer of Philips Lighting, Professional Lighting Solutions, an assignment based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Prior to joining Philips Lighting in April 2013, Ms. Huntington held senior leadership positions with Schneider Electric over the course of a 22-year career, including Chief Operating Officer of Schneider Electric North America and CEO of a subsidiary, Juno Lighting Group. Our Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and Board believe that her extensive experience in multinational operations makes her an asset to our Board.

Opinion: Is there any demand left for recreational vehicles and campers after two years of a Pandemic that’s flooded national parks with unprecedented visitors. I have to believe that demand in this industry has been pulled forward by 5 years. It’s obviously not going away. It’s not a fad.  Americans have a love affair with the road. I don’t think these large RVs like Thor manufactures will be easy to electrify but I could be wrong about that.  Bill Gates in his latest book on Climate change suggested that long-haul truckers will have to use something other than lithium batteries, perhaps hydrogen or renewable diesel.

On December 23rd, Thor Industries announced the execution of a binding Memorandum of Understanding with ZF Friedrichshafen AG which outlines the parties’ joint development of a proprietary high voltage electric drive system for towable recreational vehicles. The development driven by Thor and ZF is designed to maintain, and possibly extend, the nominal range of an electric vehicle when towing a trailer. So we know they are thinking about that opportunity.  I just don’t believe it’s near term and the stock market doesn’t have a lot of patience.

Management had said “Our strong earnings growth positions us to drive value back to our shareholders. Given our current stock price, this buyback program offers the best vehicle to accomplish that objective. We believe there is a material misalignment between our value and our stock price. Given our favorable outlook on the industry and in our business, there is no better investment opportunity for THOR than its own shares at the current market price. ” said Bob Martin, CEO of THOR Industries.

I don’t doubt the value thesis that Mr. Martin sees. Thor trades at a forward P.E. of 7.90, way below the market multiple. P.E.’s are estimates and Thor could be a value trap- declining earnings will not reward shareholders. On the other hand, private equity could take them off the market and work on the EV and alternative fuel transportation outside the glare and scrutiny of public shareholders.

Finviz Chart

Name: Moskovitz Dustin A
Position: CEO Chairman 10% Owner
Transaction Date: 2021-12-30 Shares Bought: 1,000,000 Average Price Paid: $73.70 Cost: $73,701,005

Name: Moskovitz Dustin A
Position: CEO Chairman 10% Owner
Transaction Date: 2022-01-04 Shares Bought: 750,000 Average Price Paid: $63.83 Cost: $47,869,248
Company: Asana Inc. (ASAN)
Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organize, track, and manage their work. Forrester, Inc. reports that “Asana simplifies team-based work management. Asana helps teams orchestrate their work, from small projects to strategic initiatives. Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Asana has more than 100,000 paying customers and millions of free organizations across 190 countries. Global customers such as Amazon, Japan Airlines, Sky, and Under Armour rely on Asana to manage everything from company objectives to digital transformation to product launches and marketing campaigns. Asana, Inc. offers a work management platform. The Company’s platform enables teams to orchestrate work, from daily tasks to cross-functional strategic initiatives. With its solution, Asana enables individuals to manage and prioritize across each of the projects. Its solution enables individuals to collaborate with teammates and have visibility into each team member’s responsibilities and progress. The Asana solution aids the team leads to manage work across a portfolio of projects or processes. The Company enables executives to communicate company-wide goals, monitor status, and oversee work across projects to gain real-time insights into which initiatives are on track or at risk. Asana is powered by its multidimensional data model called the work graph. The work graph captures and associates work units, the people responsible for executing those units of work, the processes in which work gets done, information about that work, and the relationships across and within the data.

Dustin Moskovitz is the co-founder and CEO of Asana. As Asana’s CEO, Dustin is dedicated to creating a product that helps the world’s teams collaborate effortlessly, in addition to leading the company’s award-winning culture. Prior to founding Asana, Dustin co-founded Facebook and served as the company’s first Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering.

Opinion: It’s hard to doubt the intelligence and foresight of Facebook co-founder Moskovitz but it appears he is intent on buying the company back that he just brought public a little over a year ago. I think eventually this idea will work but I’m afraid ASAN could go much lower before it finds an appropriate financial model that can justify its price.

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Momtazee James C
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-12-29  Shares Bought: 80,000 Average Price Paid: $14.50 Cost: $1,160,000

Name: Hassan Fred
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-12-29  Shares Bought: 19,300 Average Price Paid: $14.17 Cost: $273,390
Company: BridgeBio Pharma Inc. (BBIO)
BridgeBio Pharma, Inc. engages in the discovery, development, and delivery of various medicines for genetic diseases. The company has a pipeline of 30 development programs that include product candidates ranging from early discovery to late-stage development. Its products in development programs include BBP-265, a small molecule stabilizer of transthyretin, or TTR, that is in an ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial for the treatment of TTR amyloidosis-cardiomyopathy or ATTR-CM; BBP-831, a small molecule selective FGFR1-3 inhibitor which is an ongoing Phase 2 clinical trial for the treatment of achondroplasia in pediatric patients; an AAV5 gene transfer product candidate for the treatment of congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH, driven by 21-hydroxylase deficiency, or 21OHD; and Encaleret, a small molecule antagonist of the calcium-sensing receptor, or CaSR, an ongoing phase 2 proof-of-concept clinical trial for Autosomal Dominant Hypocalcemia Type 1, or ADH1. The company also engages in developing products for Mendelian, genetic dermatology, oncology, and gene therapy diseases. BridgeBio Pharma, Inc. has license and collaboration agreements with the Leland Stanford Junior University; The Regents of the University of California; Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.; the University of California, San Diego; Johns Hopkins University and the University of Florida; University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; Salk Institute for Biological Studies; Maze Therapeutics; UC San Francisco; the Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet); the University of California; Columbia University; Mount Sinai; and Helsinn Group, as well as a clinical collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb to evaluate the combination of BBP-398. It also has a research collaboration and option agreement with Unnatural Products Inc. to target rare diseases with potential oncology applications. The company was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.

James C. Momtazee serves as Independent Director of the Company. He is a Member of KKR, and he has been employed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., private equity, and alternative asset management firm, since 1996. Mr. Momtazee currently serves on the board of directors of PRA Health Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: PRAH), a global contract research organization as well as several private companies. He previously served on the boards of directors of Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc (Nasdaq: JAZZ), a biopharmaceutical company, from 2004 to 2014, HCA Healthcare Inc. (formerly HCA Holdings Inc.; NYSE: HCA), a health care services company, from 2006 to 2014, and Entellus Medical, Inc., a medical technology company, from 2017 to 2018. He received an A.B. from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Fred Hassan serves as Independent Director of the Company. Hassan is Director at Warburg Pincus LLC, a global private equity investment institution, since 2018. Mr. Hassan was Special Limited Partner at Warburg Pincus LLC from 2017 to 2018 and Partner and Managing Director from 2011 to 2017 and, prior to that, served as Senior Advisor from 2009 to 2010. Mr. Hassan was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Schering-Plough Corporation from 2003 to 2009. Prior to this, Mr. Hassan was Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Pharmacia Corporation, from 2001 to 2003. Before assuming these roles, he had served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Pharmacia Corporation from its creation in 2000 as a result of the merger of Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc. with Monsanto Company. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of Pharmacia & Upjohn, Inc.

Opinion: Failed biotech trials and complete response letters from the FDA are the nightmare scenarios all biotech companies face.  Small biotech’s rarely survive such a trauma.  The large and numerous insider buys give me the encouragement that Bridge Bio’s trial might not be a harbinger of a completely failed drug and/or their pipeline is robust enough that insiders still find lots of value.  The problem I have though will dipping my toes in the water is that small-cap biotechs have been performing miserably.  Even the ones with good announcements and significant insider buying like Casi Pharmaceuticals and Mustang Bio, just seem to know one direction-down.

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Holdsworth Mark Keith
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-12-30  Shares Bought: 33,480 Average Price Paid: $7.87 Cost: $263,552
Company: R F Industries Ltd. (RFIL)
RF Industries, Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, and markets interconnect products and systems in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and internationally. The company operates through two segments, RF Connector and Cable Assembly and Custom Cabling Manufacturing and Assembly. The company’s RF Connector and Cable Assembly segment designs manufacture and distribute coaxial connectors and cable assemblies that are integrated with coaxial connectors. The Custom Cabling Manufacturing and Assembly segment designs manufacture, markets and distribute custom copper and fiber cable assemblies, complex hybrid fiber optic and power solution cables, energy-efficient cooling systems for wireless base stations and remote equipment shelters, and custom-designed pole-ready 5G small cell integrated enclosures. It also manufactures and sells custom and standard cable assemblies, hybrid fiber optic power solution cables, adapters, and electromechanical wiring harnesses for communication, computer, LAN, automotive, and medical equipment. In addition, the company designs and manufactures cable assemblies and wiring harnesses for blue chip industrial, oilfield, instrumentation, and military customers. It also designs and manufactures quality connectivity solutions to telecommunications and data communications distributors. The company sells its products through warehousing distributors and in-house marketing and sales teams. It serves telecommunications carriers and equipment manufacturers, wireless and network infrastructure carriers, and OEMs. The company was formerly known as Celltronics, Inc. and changed its name to RF Industries, Ltd. in November 1990. RF Industries, Ltd. was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in San Diego, California.

Mark K. Holdsworth serves as Independent Director of the Company. Mr. Holdsworth is the Founder and Managing Partner of Holdsworth Group, LLC, which he founded in 2019. From 1999-2018, Mr. Holdsworth was a Co-Founder, Managing Partner, and an Operating Partner of Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC (“TCP”), a Los Angeles-based private multi-strategy investment firm that was acquired by BlackRock, Inc. in August 2018, and was a Managing Director at BlackRock until April 2019. Additionally, Mr. Holdsworth is the Founder of Holdsworth & Co., LLC, a private family office. Mr. Holdsworth has almost 20 years of board experience and specializes in active management oversight, strategy, M&A activity, and complex financings. He has also served as a board director or board chairperson of several public and private companies in a variety of industries.

Opinion: Not glamorous but this is just the small-cap kind of company that can work in this market. Not egregiously priced, profitable, and growing in an industry with decent secular trends. I think I’ll reserve my firepower though as some real powerhouse names are getting taken out back and shot now.

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Levenick Zachary
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-12-30  Shares Bought: 35,000 Average Price Paid: $6.78 Cost: $237,400
Company: Barnes & Noble Education Inc. (BNED)
Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. operates bookstores for college and university campuses and K-12 institutions in the United States. It operates in three segments: Retail, Wholesale, and Digital Student Solutions. The company sells and rents new and used print textbooks, digital textbooks, and publisher-hosted digital courseware through physical and virtual bookstores, as well as directly to students through Textbooks.com. It also offers First Day and First Day Complete access programs; BNC OER+, a turnkey solution for colleges and universities, that offers digital content, such as videos, activities, and auto-graded practice assessments; and general merchandise, including collegiate and athletic apparel, school spirit products, lifestyle products, technology products, supplies, and convenience items. In addition, the company sells hardware and a software suite of applications that provides inventory management and point-of-sale solutions; direct-to-student subscription-based writing services; and Bartleby, a direct-to-student subscription-based offering that includes textbook solutions, expert questions and answers, AI-based writing assistance, and tutoring services. As of June 29, 2021, it operated 769 physical college and university bookstores; and 648 virtual bookstores. The company also operates 148 True Spirit e-commerce websites; pop-up retail locations; and 77 customized cafés and 12 stand-alone convenience stores. Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. was founded in 1965 and is headquartered in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Zachary Levenick was elected to the Board in October 2020. Mr. Levenick has been a private investor in real estate and public and private securities with a focus on growing innovative or disruptive businesses in established industries, including financial services, female health, and fitness since January 2019. From 2002 to January 2019, Mr. Levenick served in various roles at Taconic Capital Advisors, LP (“Taconic”), a multibillion-dollar New York-based private investment firm, most recently serving as Principal, Co-Head of European Investing beginning in 2011. During his time at Taconic, Mr. Levenick co-managed the firm’s London-based European operations and was Portfolio Manager for European Equities investing, were focus areas included consumer products, retail, and general industries. He also established and oversaw Taconic’s public and private investment efforts in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, where focus areas included education and logistics.

Opinion: I have no idea what Barnes and Noble is up to but a company that has so collasolly missed every opportunity along the way to defend its franchise, holds no allure to me now.

 


 

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Insiders sell the stock for many reasons, but they generally buy for just one – to make money. You’ve always heard the best information is inside information.  Everyone who has any experience at all in the stock market pays close attention to what insiders are doing.  After all, who knows a business better than the people running it?  Officers, directors, and 10% owners are required to inform the public through a Form 4 Filing any transaction, buy, sell, exercise, or any other with 48 hours of doing so. This info is available for free from the SEC’s Web site, Edgar, although we subscribe to SECForm4  as they provide a way to manage and make sense of the vast realms of data. I’ve tried a lot of vendors and SECForm4 is one of the most customer-friendly and responsive I’ve used.

We publish a subscription newsletter called The Insiders Report.  We offer a free 30-day trial so you have nothing to lose by trying it out. Be sure to carefully read the TERMS OF SERVICE.

Another source for insider buying and selling and much more is FinViz Elite. FinViz stands for financial visualization and they do an amazing job of providing reams of data and the tools to help you get to the bottom of it, the information that helps me make informed decisions and probable outcomes. I’ve been using their site for years and it only gets better over time.

This is as close to “insider information” that an ordinary investor is likely to see- and it’s entirely legal. 

BEWARE– Following insiders can be hazardous to your financial health unless you know what you are doing.  Unlike the raw, unfiltered data, The Insiders Fund blog informs you of the purchases that count, the ones that are just window dressing into deceiving the public that all is hunky-dory, and those that are just flat out other people’s money and should be just discarded like bad fish. As a rule, we only look at material amounts of money, $200 thousand or more, as anything less could just be window dressing.

The bar is different from selling because the natural state of management is to be sellers. This is because most companies provide significant amounts of management compensation packages as stock and options. Therefore, with selling, we analyze for unusual patterns, such as insiders selling 25 percent or more of their holdings or multiple insiders selling near 52-week lows. Another red flag is large planned sale programs that start without warning. Unfortunately, the public information disclosure requirements about these programs referred to as Rule 10b5-1 is horrendously poor. Also planned sales that just pop up out of nowhere are basically sales and are seeking cover under the Sarbanes Oxley corporate welfare clause. I also generally ignore 10 percent shareholders as they tend to be OPM (other people’s money) and perhaps not the smart money we are trying to read the tea leaves on.

Of course, insiders can also be wrong about their Company’s prospects. Don’t let anyone fool you into believing they never make mistakes.  No one tracks and understands insider behavior better than us. We’ve been doing it religiously since 2001 when I quit being an insider myself and devoted myself full time to managing my personal investments. They can easily be wrong about how much others will value them, and in many cases, maybe most cases have no more idea what the future may hold than you or I. In short, you can lose money following them.  We have and we curse aloud, what were they thinking!  Needless to say, past good fortune is no guarantee of future success.  We may own positions, long or short, in any of these names and are under no obligation to disclose that. We welcome your comments on our analysis.

This blog is solely for educational purposes and the author’s own amusement.  Investing with The Insiders Fund is for qualified investors and by Prospectus only. Nothing herein should be construed otherwise.  THE INSIDERS FUND invests in companies at or near prices that management has been willing to invest significant amounts of their own money in.  If you would like to hear more about how you can get involved with the Insiders Fund, please schedule some time on my calendar. 

Prosperous Trading,

Harvey Sax

The Insiders Fund was the 4th best long-short equity fund in the world in 2019