Curious how well insiders are doing with their buys? Click on this link or image above to scroll the significant buys of the last year.

 The week started out with a strong rebound in Amazon’s stock that looked like it might actually be infectious for other injured tech and high flyers only to end the week in a sea of red that looked like the invasion of Ukraine had moved to the big board and NASDAQ.   The very powerful and scary Russian military machine encircling Ukraine unnerved most investors and there was a decided buyer’s boycott as Biden hinted that an invasion might happen while the Olympics were on full display.  Although I am no foreign affairs expert, I still find that conducting a full-scale blitzkrieg war while the 20222 Winter Olympics is on will piss off the only friend Putin has in Premier Xi.
But what do I know? I just bought EQT which rose on an earning miss as it’s the largest natural gas play, some General Dynamics and Northrop as it seems like there are going to be a lot of Balkan state countries that thought they were free from the evil empire clamoring to bulk up on all matter of weaponry.  Putin must own a lot of stock in Western defense contractors.  I read that Lithonaia requested a permanent American military base and I suppose that’s just one of many former Soviet empire states are that quaking in their boots. Good luck with that.
As usual, it’s not our war is the refrain until it is. What strikes me as the height of hypocrisy is that we will squander all manner of military resources in Afghanistan and far-flung places when the real battleground has been building in Europe for years.  All this talk of China as the competitive threat might be true but they hold trillions in our currency and our economies are intricately bound together.  Putin could care less as his saber-rattling is driving up the price of oil and gas, Russia’s main trading commodities.  Putin as well as a large block of the Russian people are determined to put salve on the deep  wounds of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  This is likely just getting started.
Finviz Chart

Name: Zarcone Donna F
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-08-10 Shares Bought: 1,000 Average Price Paid: $210.74 Cost: $210,741
Company: Cigna Corp. (CI)
Cigna Corporation provides insurance and related products and services in the United States. Its Evernorth segment provides a range of coordinated and point solution health services, including pharmacy, benefits management, care, and intelligence solutions to health plans, employers, government organizations, and health care providers. The company’s U.S. Medical segment offers commercial products and services, including medical, pharmacy, behavioral health, dental, vision, health advocacy programs, and other products and services for insured and self-insured customers; Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, and Medicare Part D plans for seniors, as well as Medicaid plans; and individual health insurance plans to on and off the public exchanges. Its International Markets segment offers health coverage, hospitalization, dental, critical illness, personal accident, term life, medical cost containment, and variable universal life products, as well as health care benefits to mobile employees of multinational organizations. The company distributes its products and services through insurance brokers and consultants; directly to employers, unions and other groups, or individuals; and private and public exchanges. The company was founded in 1792 and is headquartered in Bloomfield, Connecticut..

Donna F. Zarcone CPA serves as Independent Director of the Company. She has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Economic Club of Chicago, a civic and business leadership organization, since February 2012. She served as Interim President of The Economic Club of Chicago from October 2011 until February 2012 and as President and Chief Executive Officer of D. F. Zarcone & Associates LLC, a strategic advisory firm, from 2007 until February 2012. Ms. Zarcone served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc., a provider of wholesale and retail financing, insurance and credit card programs and a wholly owned subsidiary of Harley-Davidson, Inc., from 1998 until 2006..

Opinion:  This is a token director buy. Not putting much credence here.
 
Finviz Chart

Name: Schulman Daniel H
Position: CEO
Transaction Date: 2022-02-03 Shares Bought: 7,994 Average Price Paid: $124.57 Cost: $995,842
Company: PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL)
PayPal Holdings, Inc. is an American multinational financial technology company operating an online payments system in the majority of countries that support online money transfers, and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods such as checks and money orders. The company operates as a payment processor for online vendors, auction sites and many other commercial users, for which it charges a fee. The Company’s combined payment solutions, including its PayPal, PayPal Credit, Braintree, Venmo, Xoom, iZettle, and Hyperwallet products and services, comprise its Payments Platform. It operates a two-sided network that links its customers around the globe to facilitate the processing of payment transactions, allowing it to connect merchants and consumers. The Company allows its customers to use their account for both purchase and paying for goods, as well as to transfer and withdraw funds. It enables consumers to exchange funds with merchants using funding sources, which include bank account, PayPal account balance, PayPal Credit account, credit and debit card or other stored value products. The Company also offers consumers person-to-person (P2P) payment solutions through its PayPal Website and mobile application, Venmo and Xoom.

Dan Schulman is focused on democratizing and transforming financial services and e-commerce to improve the financial health of billions of people, families and businesses around the world. With extensive experience in payments and mobile technology, Dan is leading PayPal to reimagine how people move and manage money, and how merchants and consumers interact and transact. Under Dan’s leadership, PayPal has been named as one of the top companies on JUST Capital and Forbes’ JUST 100 list, featuring “companies doing right by America”. PayPal has also been recognized as a Fortune Change the World company for its work to tackle the biggest challenges facing society today. Dan’s leadership and impact have been recognized by several notable organizations.

Opinion: What exactly is Paypal? What useful function or more accurately essential function does it provide? It sure has made a lot of money and has grown into a gargantuan market cap even after this lastest epic collapse in value.  But at the end of the day, Paypal does nothing that is essential The one unique service I can tell is Venmo which allows people to pay one another instantly. This is great but apparently makes little money for Paypal. On the other hand, the Paypal wallet is just something that connects to your credit card, debit card and allows you to pay at checkout with Paypal. It’s not any cheaper for the merchant than Visa and if you can’t pay off your bill before the monthly interest charge of 23% +hits your bank account, it’s just as rapacious as any other credit card. In short, Paypal is a fraud. I’m sorry I got caught up with it during the first wave of insider buying.

Maybe fraud is too harsh.  Paypal is an impostor. It provides no useful purpose at any greater price advantage than the myriad of wallet-like products already out there. For my money, I’d take American Express Platinum. At least I can get good wifi and mediocre free food at the airport.

 

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Listwin Donald J
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-02-04 Shares Bought: 10,000 Average Price Paid: $50.94 Cost: $509,400
Company: Calix Inc. (CALX)
Calix, Inc., together with its subsidiaries, provides cloud and software platforms and systems and services in the United States, the Middle East, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, and internationally. The company’s cloud and software platforms and systems and services enable communication service providers (CSPs) to provide a range of services. It provides Calix Cloud platform, a role-based analytics platform comprising Calix Marketing Cloud, Calix Support Cloud, and Calix Operations Cloud, which are configurable to display role-based insights and enable CSPs to anticipate and target new revenue-generating services and applications through the mobile application. The company also offers EXOS, a carrier-class smart home and business operating system that supports residential, business, and mobile subscribers; and AXOS, an operating system for access networks that allows a service provider to deliver all services on a single, elastic, converged access network that is always on, simple to operate, and quick to deploy. It offers its products through its direct sales force and resellers. Calix, Inc. was incorporated in 1999 and is headquartered in San Jose, California..

Mr. Listwin was appointed lead independent director in July 2021 and previously served as chairman of our Board from July 2007 until July 2021. Mr. Listwin brings 40 years of experience in the networking industry and significant board, public company executive and operational experience to our Board. Since January 2018, Mr. Listwin has served as chief executive officer of iSchemaView (doing business as RapidAI), a privately-held medical device company. Mr. Listwin also serves on the board of directors of several privately-held technology companies in the fields of health and medical, software and electric vehicles. Mr. Listwin founded BelizeKIDS.org in 2016, a non-profit organization focused on helping children in Belize, and Canary Foundation in 2004, a non-profit organization devoted to the early detection of cancer, and has served on the board of directors of both organizations since their inception.

Opinion: Listwin has been buying this stock for a long time and it has never made much sense to me. Yes, I’ll follow most any insider for a few hours or days but it looks like the chickens have come home to roost. What the hell is the Calix cloud and why does anyone need it?

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Weddell Steven M
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-02-08 Shares Bought: 25,000 Average Price Paid: $19.80 Cost: $495,000

Name: Egeck Michael
Position: CEO
Transaction Date: 2022-02-08 Shares Bought: 101,700 Average Price Paid: $19.66 Cost: $1,999,422
Company: Leslie’s Inc. (LESL)
Leslie’s, Inc. operates as a direct-to-consumer pool and spa care brand in the United States. The company markets and sells pool and spa supplies and related products and services. It offers pool chemicals consisting of chlorine, sanitizers, water balancers, specialty chemicals, and algae control; pool covers, including winter, solar and safety covers, leaf nets, cover reels, and cover alternatives; pool equipment, which comprise pool cleaners, pool pumps, pool filters, pool heating, and lighting; and pools, such as above ground pools, soft side pools, above ground pools liners and equipment, ladders and rails, and diving  boards. The company also provides pool maintenance products, including pool closing and opening supplies, filter cartridges, chlorine floaters, backwash and vacuum hoses, and cleaning attachments; parts, such as automatic pool cleaner parts, pool filter and pump parts, and pool heater and heat pump parts; and safety, recreational, and fitness-related products. In addition, it provides pool equipment and repair services. The company markets its products through 952 company operated locations in 38 states and e-commerce websites. It serves the residential, professional, and commercial consumers. The company was founded in 1963 and is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. Their dedicated team of more than 5,000 associates, pool and spa care experts, and experienced service technicians are passionate about empowering our customers with the knowledge, products, and solutions necessary to confidently maintain and enjoy their pools and spas. They are dedicated to developing new technologies and solutions that will transform and improve their customers’ experience, as well as advance our industry leadership. These efforts are done with the goal of providing unprecedented service to our communities, and making sure that pool owners spend less time caring for their pools and more time enjoying them. Leslie’s is committed to developing and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion within their company and the communities they serve. A key aspect of building a great team is valuing ideas from many viewpoints, which is why they place a priority on identifying and hiring talented individuals from all backgrounds and perspectives.

Mr. Weddell joined the Company in June 2015. Mr. Weddell worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. from 2003 to 2015, in the Investment Banking Group, and served as a Managing Director in the Consumer Retail Group as well as the Merger Leadership Group. Mr. Weddell also served as a Manager in the Assurance Practice at Arthur Andersen LLP. Mr. Weddell earned his CPA license in California and previously held Series 7 and Series 24 licenses. Mr. Weddell has a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Southern California and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.. 

Mr. Egeck joined the Company in February 2020. Previously, Mr. Egeck served as the Chief Executive Officer of PSEB Group, a $1.5 billion operating company composed of the Eddie Bauer outdoor brand and teen retailer PACSUN. Mr. Egeck has more than three decades of experience and a proven track record of driving transformational growth for a variety of brands and business models including: Chief Executive Officer of Eddie Bauer (from 2012 to 2020); Chief Executive Officer of Hurley International, a division of Nike, Inc. (from 2011 to 2012); President of True Religion Apparel, Inc. (from 2010 to 2011); President of VF Corp’s Contemporary Brand Coalition (from 2007 to 2009); Chief Executive Officer of Seven For All Mankind, prior to its acquisition by VF Corp. (from 2006 to 2007); President of VF Corp’s Outdoor and Action Sports Coalition (from 2004 to 2006); and President of The North Face, a division of VF Corp (from 2000 to 2004).

Opinion: This looks like a solid buy. Shelling out $2 million is real money and the director ponying up $500k is not chicken feed either On Feb 3 LESLraises FY22 revenue view to $1.5B-$1.52B from $1.48B-$1.5B, consensus $1.5B. Sees FY22 adjusted EBITDA $300M-$310M.

 

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Friedland Robert M
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-02-03 Shares Bought: 40,000 Average Price Paid: $7.57 Cost: $302,800
Company: SES AI Corp. (SES)
SES AI Corporation is an integrated Li-Metal battery manufacturer with operations in the United States, Singapore, China, and South Korea. It develops and produces Li-Metal rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and other applications. The company was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. SES is supported by strategic and financial investors, including energy and chemicals conglomerate SK, mining and manufacturing company Tianqi, semiconductor equipment manufacturer Applied Materials, investment firms Vertex Ventures and Temasek Holdings, affiliates of automotive suppliers LG and Foxconn Technology Group, and global OEMs GM, Hyundai, Geely Auto Group and Shanghai Auto. Among this group, GM and Hyundai are parties to existing joint development agreements with SES. From a technology validation perspective, SES is the first next generation Li-Metal battery company to publicly release the results of third-party test reports that showed industry-leading energy density, performance and safety. SES is also the first Li-Metal battery company to enter an automotive A-sample joint development agreement (JDA) with automakers. SES announced A-sample JDAs with GM in March 2021, with Hyundai in May 2021, and with Honda in January 2022, and more are expected in the pipeline..

Opinion: This is a SPAC and if you’re stupid enough to buy a SPAC, you deserve to lose.

 

Finviz Chart

Name: Fisher Itzhak
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2021-08-11 Shares Bought: 100,000 Average Price Paid: $3.20 Cost: $320,000
Company: Comscore Inc. (SCOR)
comScore, Inc. operates as an information and analytics company that measures advertising, consumer behavior, and audiences across media platforms worldwide. The company offers ratings and planning products and services, including Media Metrix Multi-Platform and Mobile Metrix, which measure Websites and apps on computers, smartphones, and tablets; Video Metrix that delivers measurement of digital video consumption; and Plan Metrix, which offers understanding of consumer lifestyle. Its ratings and planning products and services also comprises TV Essentials that combines TV viewing information with marketing segmentation and consumer databases; StationView Essentials to understand consumer viewing patterns and characteristics; Cross-Platform Suite, which integrates person-level linear TV viewership with digital audience data; and OnDemand Essentials that provides transactional tracking and reporting. In addition, its ratings and planning products comprise Comscore Campaign Ratings for verification of mobile and desktop video campaigns; validated Campaign Essentials, which validates whether digital ad impressions are visible to humans, identifies those that are fraudulent, and verifies that ads are shown in brand safe content and delivered to the right audience targets; and Total Home Panel Suite, which capture OTT, connected TV, and IOT device usage and content consumption. The company also offers analytics and optimization products and services that provide solutions for planning, optimization, and evaluation of advertising campaigns and brand protection. In addition, it offers movies reporting and analytics products and services to measure movie viewership and box office results by capturing movie ticket sales in real time or near real time. It serves digital publishers, television networks, movie studios, content owners, brand advertisers, agencies, and technology providers. The company was incorporated in 1999 and is headquartered in Reston, Virginia.

Mr. Fisher has spent three decades creating, operating and investing over $3B in digital, media and retail companies, focusing on data and analytics. He has built successful management teams and created significant value in these companies through operational excellence, organic growth, joint ventures and acquisitions. Mr. Fisher is the chairman and founder of Pereg Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in B2B information services businesses across the U.S. and Israel. Previously, he served in senior product and business development roles at Nielsen, and as president and CEO of RSL Communications, he built a telecommunications company that operated in over 20 countries and generated more than $1.5 billion in revenues. 

Opinion: I gave up on this company a long time ago and you should to.

 


 

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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. SECForm4 is one of the smaller ones but I like supporting Frank. He is not arrogant. He’s helpful and has great prices. He also trades on his own data so I like people that eat what they kill.

“Typos Modus Operandi” if you can’t figure out what I meant
you shouldn’t be reading my emails anyway.mmmm  in other words, the typos are free.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            n

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. It’s just one piece of the investor’s due diligence. The Insiders Fund blog informs you of the purchases that count.  As a rule, we only look at material amounts of money 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.  Do your own analysis. They can easily be wrong about, and in many cases, maybe most cases have no more idea what the future may hold than you or me. In short, you can lose money following them.  We have and we curse aloud, what were they thinking!

We like Fly on the Wall for keeping up with what events might be happening, analysts comment, and whatever else could be moving the stock.  Dow Jones news service is an essential tool but many services pick up their feed like they do Bloomberg. For quick financial analysis, it’s hard to beat Old School Value.

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. 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