The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defines insiders as the "management, officers or any beneficial owners with more than 10% class of a company's security."
Insiders are subject to regulations, which include submitting SEC forms each time they acquire or sell shares. The rule also prohibits insiders from depositing shares within six months of their purchase in order to avoid insider trading, which is when people have illegal access to material non-public information because of their positions.
This effectively prevents insiders from making rapid trades on swings using their knowledge.
The legendary Fidelity Investments manager Peter Lynch once said, "Insiders might sell their shares for any number of reasons, but they buy them for only one: they think the price will rise."
Since insiders are the only ones who truly understand their industry, insider trades are a valuable addition to your trading strategy.
The returns on all insider trades, however, vary greatly. This essay seeks to educate readers about the crucial elements that can boost results.
What Does It Mean When Insiders Buy or Sell?
In general, insider buying is viewed as a bullish indicator because it demonstrates management's belief in the company. In other words, insiders predict an increase in the value of their stock. Insider selling is viewed negatively; those with knowledge may be unloading their stock in anticipation of a quick decline in share prices. Insider purchases outperformed the market by 11.2% annually, according to a 2003 study by Yale University's Andrew Metrick, Richard Zeckhauser, and Leslie A. Jeng of Harvard University. Insider sales, interestingly, were not as profitable.
Take Insider Purchases into Consideration to Reduce the Impact of Human Emotions:
Every investor has experienced the feeling of uncertainty while making an investment choice because it might significantly affect their wealth. These feelings are most noticeable when a stock has a sharp decrease in price or a prolonged period of declining share price.
Potential buyers frequently pass up good buying opportunities because of this prejudiced human behavior and a lack of understanding about the company, and owners tend to sell out of fear of losing even more money.
Insider trading can assist in helping you make investment selections if you believe that you are starting to trade based more on feelings than on facts. Check to see if insiders have lately purchased a stock if you are on the fence.
This can help you learn more about the firm's prospects because these insiders are in the best position to know how their company is doing.
Take Insider Purchasing Activity More Seriously When They Trade in Clusters:
The best insider deals have been the subject of numerous empirical studies. One of the most important findings was made by Alldredge et al., who discovered that clustered trades—multiple insiders making purchases close to one another—perform much better than solitary trades. They discovered a substantial difference between the one-month anomalous return (return above market movement while accounting for the stock's risks) for clustered insider trades and solitary trades, which was 2.1% compared to 1.3%. This makes sense because there is a higher chance of undervaluation when numerous insiders purchase their stock.
Therefore, clustered purchases are more instructive than solitary ones if you are considering insider purchases in your investing strategy (which I recommend you do).
Take Insider Purchasing Activity More Seriously in Value Stocks:
There are often two explanations for why an insider outperforms the market on average. They can trade first, thanks to superior insider knowledge. They are also superior value investors because they can recognize when a stock is inexpensive following poor recent performance.
As part of my own research, I divided the 3620 insider acquisitions made between 2014 and 2018 into five quintiles and ranked them according to a number of criteria. It's interesting to note that the largest free cash flow yield portfolio, which includes the 20% firms with the greatest free cash flow yield, excelled strongly when compared to the S&P 500, returning an excess return of 9.09% annually.
Don't Give Attention to Insider Sales; It Doesn't Tell Us Anything About Returns:
The biggest misconception about insider trading is how informative insider sales are.
Since there are numerous motivations to sell a stock, including wealth diversification, executing granted stock options, and freeing up cash to spend on other things, insider sales have little correlation with future stock gains. Therefore, insider sales shouldn't even be considered.
Numerous insiders, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (FB) and Tim Cook of Apple, simply sell shares on a regular basis in order to exercise options. That doesn't provide any information regarding the stock's worth.
Don't Give Attention to Routine Purchases When the Insider Purchases Regularly:
Some insiders simply invest routinely in their company's shares because they have faith in it, rather than attempting to buy only when prices are low. These "routine" trades, which are defined as trades that have occurred in the same month for at least three years, outperform opportunistic trades significantly less frequently.
In fact, Cohen et al. discovered that whereas ordinary trades are not indicative of future profits, opportunistic trades generate a considerable abnormal return of 5.8% yearly. So, when examining insider purchases by a certain company, consider how frequently they occur.
Don't Deny Low-Value Purchases:
Investors' second largest error is thinking that only significant insider purchases provide useful information. For instance, they contend that a $20,000 purchase of a specific insider is not helpful because most of them have net worths greater than $1 million. Do you really care if a $2,000 investment has a $100,000 net worth? Would be.
In fact, numerous empirical studies have refuted this claim by showing that the value of the transaction has no appreciable effect on the number of shares acquired. In order to identify informative trades, we must reject uninformative purchases that are less than $5,000. Above this, however, I think it is not useful to examine the value purchased given the empirical evidence. Therefore, when examining insider trades, don't merely rule out the less expensive acquisitions.
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