Top-Level Insiders Selling Their Stock

PAUL THARP
NY Post
Friday, December 8, 2006

America's corporate chiefs are unloading their own stocks at one of the boldest paces in 20 years.

In cases of the very rich, such as Microsoft's Bill Gates and Google's top brass, the executives are selling a whopping $63 for each $1 of stock they bought, says a report by Bloomberg.

In November alone, leaders of public companies dumped $8.4 billion worth of stock they owned as insiders, most of it awarded as compensation, bonuses or other management incentives.

But the vast majority of the executives put their windfall cash to work elsewhere, with just $133 million being plowed back into purchases of more company stock.

Analysts say a take-the-money-and-run flight from their own companies signals a growing lack of confidence in the economy's future course, as well as fears of a possible global meltdown if the Iraq crisis escalates across borders.

It's also a good time to take profits, with the Dow Jones industrial average up nearly 15 percent this year, the S&P 500 ahead 13 percent, and the Nasdaq 11 percent higher.


Wall Street investors are displaying fresh worries that the Federal Reserve might pull the trigger too quickly on hiking rates again, possibly plunging the U.S. into a recession as the Fed did in 2000.

Just before the worst of the 2000 recession, insider sales were also at a near record.

Leading the latest wave of insider selling is Microsoft, with $594.2 million of stock sold by insiders during November, with Gates unloading $581.1 million.

Gates has been selling shares regularly - including $2.1 billion last year - as he whittles down his once mammoth stake, putting a big chunk of his wealth to work in a not-for-profit foundation that invests in a wide range of securities and other deals.

Billionaire Paul Allen also sold off 28 percent of his stake last month in DreamWorks Animation SKG for $224.2 million, keeping about 21 million shares.

Insiders at Seagate sold $311.8 million in November, while Google insiders unloaded $182.1 million in the four weeks.

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt and its co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have usually led the insider-selling parade with sales of hundreds of millions as the stock rose steadily to break the $500 mark.

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