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Insider Buying Week 12-16-22 CRONOS Up in Smoke?

The Biden administration may be the savviest market timer on or off Wall Street this year.  The widely scoffed-at and criticized announcement on March 31 stated that the administration would start selling oil from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserves.  It sounded like a cheap trick to influence voters upset about high prices at the pump for the Midterm elections. At the time, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate Crude hovered around  $98 per barrel and has gotten as high as $110.  Friday’s close of $74.50 represents a short seller’s return of over 35% in less than nine months.  At the time, it was criticized as the most partisan of partisan shenanigans.  It’s shocking how little play this gets in the financial press. Most professionals would die to have numbers like that, especially this year

There were a handful of notable insider buys.  Some of these trades make sense, some seem like layups, and others just leave me scratching my head; what were they thinking?


Name: Edward Shapiro
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-14 Shares Bought: 25,000 Average Price Paid: $39.79 Cost: $994,725.00
Company: United Airlines Holdings Inc. (UAL)

Name: James A C Kennedy
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-14 Shares Bought: 5,000 Average Price Paid: $39.33 Cost: $196,635.00
Company: United Airlines Holdings Inc. (UAL)
United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is a holding company, and its main wholly-owned subsidiary is United Airlines, Inc. The common goal of United is “Bringing People Together. Bringing the World Together.” United has the most routes of any North American airline. Its hubs are in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Because UAL consolidates United for financial reporting purposes, information about United’s operations also apply to UAL unless otherwise specified. United’s operations income and costs account for approximately all of UAL’s revenues and expenses. Also, almost the whole balance of UAL’s assets, liabilities, and operational cash flows comes from United.

Mr. Shapiro was the Managing Partner of PAR Capital Management, Inc., a Boston-based investment management company that specialized in travel, media, and internet-related companies, from 1999 until 2016. Before joining PAR Capital, Mr. Shapiro was a Vice President at Wellington Management Company and an analyst at Morgan Stanley & Co. Mr. Shapiro has been on the boards of Global Eagle Entertainment, US Airways,, Lumexis Corporation, and Sonifi Solutions. Mr. Shapiro earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

Opinion: Believe it or not, flights to Asia will come back, and with that, United’s China business. It may never return to the bustling growth engine it was, but that’s not at the current price anyway. The airline business is clearly good but it doesn’t seem to be helping the stocks. Perhaps it will take several quarters of robust profits before the market believes that flying is truly back.

Goldman Sachs analyst Catherine O’Brien resumed coverage of United Airlines with a Buy rating and a $51 price target. While positive on the backdrop for airlines, the analyst says the economic outlook is uncertain. In this environment, she favors stocks with “idiosyncratic earnings drivers, relatively more recovery tailwinds remaining, or characteristics that reduce downside risk.” O’Brien is positive on United given its exposure to end markets that are still recovering and its growth plans “that are boosted by reactivation of 777 fleet.”


Name: Steve Klohn
Position: SVP Chief Information Officer
Transaction Date: 2022-12-08 Shares Bought: 14,287 Average Price Paid: $35.18 Cost: $502,684
Company: Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc (PLAY)

Name: Ashley Zickefoose
Position: SVP Chief Marketing Officer
Transaction Date: 2022-12-08 Shares Bought: 3,000 Average Price Paid: $34.49 Cost: $103,470
Company: Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc (PLAY)
Dave & Buster’s Entertainment, Inc. is the major owner and operator of high-volume entertainment and eating facilities known as “Dave & Buster’s.” Customers may “eat, drink, play, and watch” all in one area, according to the firm. The company offers the most sociable, sharing enjoyment to its consumers, as well as high-quality food and drinks and interactive entertainment alternatives for adults and families to enjoy together. The first Dave & Buster location debuted in 1982 in Dallas, Texas, and as of January 30, 2022, the firm owned and managed 144 stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and one Canadian province.

Steven Klohn is the Chief Information Officer at Main Event Entertainment, one of the top family entertainment center firms in the United States. Steve’s team is focused on giving business solutions that are safe, reliable, and scalable so that they can best serve its customers and team members. Steve has been an advocate for new technology for over 23 years, and he has a genuine desire to help people move up in their careers. His technological career began in the United States Marine Corps, where he worked as a UNIX administrator. Steve was formerly the CTO of Brinker International. In this role, he was in charge of all IT technology and architecture, which helped the company grow.

Ashley Zickefoose has been the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer since August 2022. Previously, she was Chief Marketing Officer at Main Event Entertainment from September 2021 to July 2022, Chief Marketing and Concept Officer at CEC Entertainment, Inc. from March 2018 to April 2020, and Chief Marketing Officer at On the Border LLC from September 2015 to March 2018. She formerly worked for Yum! Brands, Inc.’s Pizza Hut brand for six years in different brand and marketing capacities.



Name: Clarence Jr Otis
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-09 Shares Bought: 9,000 Average Price Paid: $28.32 Cost: $254,873.00
Company: V F Corp (VFC)

Name: Mark Samuel Hoplamazian
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-09 Shares Bought: 17,500 Average Price Paid: $28.04 Cost: $490,712.00
Company: V F Corp (VFC)
V.F. Corporation, which has been around since 1899, is one of the largest clothing, shoe, and accessory companies in the world. Its family of well-known outdoor, active, and workwear brands connects people to their favorite lifestyles, activities, and experiences. VF is diverse across brands, product categories, distribution methods, locations, and customer demographics. The company sells many different brands of outerwear, shoes, clothes, backpacks, luggage, and other items. Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, and Dickies® are among the company’s most well-known brands. The firm relies on the worldwide procurement of completed goods from independent contractors to deliver diverse items through several channels of distribution in different geographic locations.

Mr. Otis retired join as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Darden Restaurants, Inc. in 2014, a global full-service restaurant corporation. Before that, he served as Darden Restaurants, Inc.’s Executive Vice President and President of its Smokey Bones Restaurants division from December 2002 to December 2004, Darden Restaurants’ Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from April 2002 to December 2002, and Darden Restaurants’ Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 1999 to 2002. Mr. Otis also serves on the boards of Verizon Communications, Inc., The Travelers Companies, Inc., and MFS Funds.

Mr. Hoplamazian has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyatt Hotels Corporation since December 2006, and a member of the Hyatt Hotels Corporation board of directors since November 2006. Mr. Hoplamazian formerly served as president of The Pritzker Organization the primary financial and investment consultant to the Pritzker family’s commercial holdings. During his 17-year stint at TPO, he advised several Pritzker family-owned businesses, including Hyatt Hotels Corporation and its predecessors.

Opinion: VF rocked Wall Street and not in a good way at its December 6th 3rd quarter earnings call. It lowered consensus $2.40 earnings.  It cut FY23 revenue view to up 3%-4% from up 5%-6%, consensus $11.69B. The company said, “VF is revising its FY23 outlook largely to reflect the impact of weaker than anticipated consumer demand across its categories, primarily in North America, which is resulting in a more elevated than expected promotional environment as well as order cancellations in the wholesale channel to manage trade inventories. Also impacting the outlook, but to a lesser degree, are the higher than expected impacts from inflation on consumer discretionary spending in Europe and ongoing COVID-19 related disruption in China. VF now expects total revenue growth in the second half of FY23 to be modestly lower than previously outlined, with revenue for the full year expected to increase 3% to 4% in constant dollars (excluding the impact of translating foreign currencies into U.S. dollars), compared to the previous guidance of up 5% to 6% in constant dollars. The promotional environment, primarily in North America, and SG&A deleverage from lower volumes are expected to impact profitability in the near term. Adjusted diluted EPS for the full year is now expected to be $2.00 to $2.20, versus $3.18 in the prior year and compared to the previous outlook of $2.40 to $2.50. Adjusted amounts exclude transaction and deal-related activities, costs related to specified strategic business decisions, noncash impairment charges, and a pension settlement charge.”


Name: David Byron Jr Smith
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-08 Shares Bought: 1,390 Average Price Paid: $221.81 Cost: $308,316.00
Company: Illinois Tool Works Inc.(ITW)
Illinois Tool Works, Inc. was started in 1912, and in 1915, it became a legal business. ITW is the ticker symbol for the company. The company has 83 divisions in 52 different countries and makes a wide range of industrial The company’s work is split into seven divisions based on similar product lines and end markets. These divisions are automotive OEM, food equipment, test and measurement, electronics, welding, polymers and fluids, construction products, and specialty products. The company’s work is split into seven divisions based on similar product lines and end markets. These are automotive OEM, food equipment, test and measurement, electronics, welding, polymers and fluids, construction products, and specialty products.

Mr. David H. Byron Smith, Jr., has been Executive Vice President for Policy and Legal Affairs and General Counsel at the Mutual Fund Directors Forum in Washington DC. since November 2005. A business consultant, Mr. Smith. At the Securities and Exchange Commission, he has held a number of posts, including Associate director of the division of investment management from 1996 to 2005. Since December 4, 2009, he has served as an independent director of Illinois Tool Works Inc. and Northern Trust Corporation. He graduated from Carlton College with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and from The University of Chicago with a Master of Arts in English. He graduated from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude degree.

Opinion: Onshoring or near-shoring supply chains will provide a multi-decade opportunity for ITW and other businesses integral to mechanized manufacturing, robotics, supply, and testing. It’s hard to say what the motive could be for this purchase. It’s not a particularly large purchase and may mean nothing other than a director fulfilling his obligation written or unwritten obligation to be an ITW shareholder.


Name: Jeffrey Keenan
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-11-25 Shares Bought: 24,474 Average Price Paid: $20.66 Cost: $505,706.00
Company: Mativ Holdings Inc. (MATV)
Mativ Holdings, Inc. is a manufacturer of performance materials. The business is divided into two divisions: Advanced Materials & Structures and Engineered Papers. The AMS division makes things like nets, films, and meltblown materials that are rolled out of resin. It also manufactures bonding products and adhesive components, as well as adhesives and other coating solutions, as well as providing conversion services. Its end markets include healthcare, construction, industrial, transportation, and filtration. For the tobacco business, the EP division makes different kinds of cigarette paper and tobacco products that have been reconstituted. It also makes non-tobacco papers for a variety of uses, including energy storage and industrial commodity paper grades.

Jeffrey J. Keenan started IESI Corp. and has been in charge of six other businesses. He is the Executive Chairman of ACV Enviro Holding Corp. and the CEO, CFO, and Secretary of Synergy Environmental Corp. Mr. Keenan is on the board of directors of Mativ Holdings, Inc. He was formerly a principal at Acadia Partners LP, president, and chief compliance officer at Roark Capital Group, Inc., chairman at IESI Corp., president of The United Co., principal at Lehman Brothers, Inc., and general partner & managing director at AEA Investors LP. The University of Chicago gave Mr. Keenan a graduate degree, an MBA, and an undergraduate degree.

Opinion: We’ve passed on this before and will continue to avoid corporate restructurings and financial engineering. Mativ Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: MATV) (“Mativ” or the “Company”) is the result of the merger of equals between Schweitzer-Mauduit International, Inc. (“SWM”) and Neenah, Inc. (“Neenah”), two leading global manufacturers of specialty materials, effective July 6, 2022. 


Name: Matthew J Gould
Position: VP
Transaction Date: 2022-12-09 Shares Bought: 12,300 Average Price Paid: $20.21 Cost: $248,541
Company: BRT Apartments Corp.(BRT)
BRT Apartments Corp. is an internally managed real estate investment trust, or REIT, that specializes in the acquisition, management, and, to a lesser extent, the development of multifamily properties. The company’s primary interests include multifamily property ownership, management, and development. The company typically owns multifamily properties like townhomes, mid-rise apartments, or garden apartments that offer residents access to amenities like a clubhouse, swimming pool, laundry rooms, and cable television. The typical length of a residential lease is one year, and security deposits up to the amount of one month’s rent may be required. These properties have a large percentage of their units leased at market rates.

Jeffrey A. Gould now holds the positions of Director and Senior Vice President of One Liberty Properties, Inc., President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director at BRT Apartments Corp. In addition, Mr. Gould serves as managing general partner at Gould Investors LP, principal at UJA-Federation of New York; member of Young Presidents’ Organization, Inc., World Presidents’ Organization, and Chief Executives Organization, Inc.; principal at Federation Employment & Guidance Service, Inc., director and senior vice president at Georgetown Partners, Inc.; and member-New York Finance Committee at Real Estate Board of New York, Inc.

Opinion: Multifamily REITs at the right price make sense to me in this current interest rate climate. BRT Apartment’s 4.90% dividend yield is compelling compared to Friday’s two-year Treasury already at 4.17% and the 10-year yield already down to 3.48%. BRT Apartments starts at 4.9% and will likely raise its dividend over the coming years.


Name: Morris E Foster
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-09 Shares Bought: 14,025 Average Price Paid: $14.33 Cost: $200,978
Company: Comstock Resources Inc (CRK)
Comstock Resources Inc. is a well-known independent natural gas producer that focuses on the Haynesville shale in North Louisiana and East Texas. The Haynesville shale offers better economics because of its proximity to Gulf Coast markets and is one of the top natural gas basins in the world. The main goal of the company is to increase its value by creating a large number of very profitable and low-risk drilling opportunities in the Haynesville and Bossier shales. Louisiana and Texas account for the majority of the company’s oil and gas activities. The company’s Haynesville and Bossier shale assets are situated in one of the most productive natural gas shale plays in North America, and because of their closeness to the Gulf Coast, they have access to the market needs for LNG exports and the petrochemical sector.

Morris E. Foster, a businessman, is now the president of Exxon Upstream Development Co., the chairman of Mill Creek Resort, the chairman of Stagecoach Properties, Inc., and the chairman of Stagecoach Holding LLC. Mr. Foster also holds directorships at Comstock Resources, Inc., Scott & White Healthcare, United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast, and Temple, Oklahoma’s First State Bank. He is also a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Inc., the American Petroleum Institute, Inc., and the Texas A&M University Board of Regents. Before that, he worked for Exxon Mobil Corp., ExxonMobil Development Co., ExxonMobil Production Co., and Exxon Co. USA, all of which were divisions of Exxon Mobil Corp. He was also a director of the University of Texas Investment Management Co. and a member of the association’s regents board. Morris E. Foster received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University.

Opinion: Natural gas prices have been collapsing recently, likely pulled down by the lack of storage in Europe. The EU has been on a breakneck pace to load up with natural gas because of the Russian shut-off with the war in Ukraine. Europe had limited storage, and it’s now complete, weighing on the price of global supply-demand. 

I’m bullish on American natural gas suppliers. They make lots of money at these prices and are not likely to overproduce as they have done in the past.  Those lessons have been learned; companies have been bankrupted, and a financial discipline was missing hereto now.


Name: Gordon Crawford
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-14 Shares Bought: 100,000 Average Price Paid: $6.18 Cost: $617,700.00
Company: Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF-B)
Lionsgate includes top-tier motion picture and television studio activities coordinated with the STARZ premium global subscription platform to provide customers worldwide with a distinctive and diverse portfolio of entertainment. The company’s 17,000-title library and rich collection of classic film and television properties support its film, television, subscription, and location-based entertainment operations. The company uses three reportable business sectors to manage and provide operating results: media networks, motion pictures, and television production. The production of film and television content and the domestic and international theatrical release of the company’s films both experienced delays. Even though most film and television production has resumed, the industry still experiences production interruptions depending on the local environment.

Mr. Gordon Crawford is a Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation independent director. Since February 7th, 2013, He has worked in several capacities for Capital Research and Management, a privately held investment management firm. Mr. Crawford left his position as Senior Vice President in December 2012. Mr. Crawford is now Chairman of the US Olympic and Paralympic Foundation’s Board of Trustees and a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of Southern California Public Radio. Mr. Crawford formerly served as Vice Chairman of the Paley Center for Media and Vice Chairman of The Nature Conservancy. Since 1971, Mr. Crawford has been one of the most powerful and successful investors in the media and entertainment sector.

Opinion: I don’t know why Gordi continues to accumulate Lions Gate. I supposed one day I’ll awake to a headline that Apple, Amazon, or even Netflix, has bought the production company in the never-ending quest for talent and hits. I just don’t like owning stocks on a downward trajectory and needing news headlines to work. Life is just too short.


Name: Jason Marc Adler
Position: Director
Transaction Date: 2022-12-12 Shares Bought: 174,152 Average Price Paid: $2.89 Cost: $503,958
Transaction Date: 2022-12-08 Shares Bought: 291,400 Average Price Paid: $2.87 Cost: $837,623
Transaction Date: 2022-12-12 Shares Bought: 204,188 Average Price Paid: $2.82 Cost: $575,185
Company: Cronos Group Inc. (CRON)
The Cronos Group is a cutting-edge international cannabis firm dedicated to developing cannabis research, technology, and product development to create disruptive intellectual property. It also aims to create an iconic brand portfolio. The Company created the United States segment on September 5, 2019, as a consequence of acquiring four Redwood Holding Group, LLC, companies. Redwood produces, markets, and distributes dietary supplements containing cannabinoids derived from U.S. hemp and cosmetic goods through retail, hospitality, and e-commerce partner channels in the country. The cultivation, production, and marketing of cannabis and cannabis-derived products for the medical and adult markets are activities of the Rest of the World operating segment.

Jason Marc Adler, who founded AlphaBet Partners LP, Saiers Capital LLC, Alphabet Ventures LLC, and Geronimo LLC, is the managing partner of Gotham Green Partners LLC. Mr. Adler also serves as a principal in AlphaBet Partners Group LP and a member of the board of Cronos Group, Inc. Mr. Adler has held the positions of CEO and managing member at Alphabet Ventures LLC, CEO of Saiers Capital LLC, and CEO of Alphabet Partners LP in the past. The University of Rhode Island awarded Mr. Adler a bachelor’s degree.

Opinion: This is the head-scratcher. Perhaps it’s the omnibus spending bill that sneaks through some marijuana-friendly banking reforms before the end of the year. Increasingly unlikely. Perhaps it’s some kind of bipartisan legislation in 2023 that makes the US cannabis business a friendlier place to poke around in. We don’t know, but this kind of repeated buying from an insider tells me something is up. Any ideas anyone?



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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 within 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.

The bar is different from selling because the natural state of management is to be seller. This is because most companies provide significant amounts of management compensation packages as stock and options. Therefore, with selling, we analyze 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, 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’ comments, 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

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