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Lets start with the good news!

We’ve closed our cautious view on HSBC (November 14th article here), with a 10% absolute return or a 20% relative return over a month. We linked directors share sales with an expected increase in negative newsflow over China’s economy, and saw the shares weaker to reflect this. Maybe this is too short term a view, especially with reports that Chinas power generation ‘in October is down 4% from a year earlier‘ (The Australian October 15th).

Allscripts (MDRX) has exhibited further director buying activity this week, with Misys non execs John King and Sir Dominic Cadbury buying 10,000 shares each at $7.23 and $7.27 respectively . This is in addition to the Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman buying 100,000 shares at $5.11 on November 4th, and Misys CEO Mile Lawrie buying 70,000 shares for $5.09 on October 27th. Allscripts are a NYSE listed company, majority owned by Misys. Allscripts shares are up 39% since our article of October 30th.

I was intrigued by Babcock, where the CEO Peter Rogers bought shares for the first time in four years this week (see ‘Babcock CEO buys shares‘). This brings to seven the number of UK engineering companies where we have seen significant director buying activity, namely Babcock, Weir Group, IMI, Senior, Bodycote, John Wood and GKN. Which brings me to the bad news.

Only a couple of weeks ago, on October 28th, Nigel Stein, CEO of GKNs Automotive division, bought 84,000 shares in the group at 100.5p, taking his holding to 209,000 shares (see ‘Head of GKN Automotive doubles shareholding‘). Then along comes another profit warning, to the effect that orders have collapsed in two divisions, one of which is Automotive, in the last seven days. The stock price fell from 107p on Thursday to close at 87.5p on Friday. If Stein doesn’t know what’s going on, who does?

Another company that loves profit warnings is Rentokil, ‘the royal rat catcher’. I suggested in ‘Rats, Ships and Rentokil’ that a share sale by the Divisional Managing Director of Asia, David Liu, might be the precursor to further negative newsflow.

Lastly, in the small cap arena, Directors of TT Electronics were seen to accelerate share purchases, buying six times as many shares in October as they had bought in the previous 12 months. The next news on TT is likely to be a pre close statement in late December. See ‘TT Electronics sees an acceleration in directors buying activity’.

News Ahead

November 19th sees IMIs Interim Management Statement. I expect this to be positive in light of recent director buying activity. But after Fridays warning from GKN, who knows.

And November 26th is the scheduled date for De La Rues Earnings release. Remember that the CEO and CFO raised about GBP 1 million between them by selling shares in mid September (‘Currency Printers Cash In’). The shares have outperformed the FTSE 250 by 17% since then. Citigroup apparently downgraded the stock last week in anticipation of falling emerging markets revenues (Guardian November 10th). I agree, I think the risks are on the downside for De La Rue.

HSBC- ‘Emerging Markets under Great Stress’

In his letter to the G 20 leaders on November 6, IMF Head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said that emerging markets were now under great stress as the “capital flows that have sustained growth dry up across the board” (Source-IMF website).

The Observer advises that investors will anxiously scan HSBCs third quarter trading statement for ‘signs the financial crisis is spreading to its Asian business‘ (Observer November 9th- Crunch Pummels HSBC again‘).

Our note of October 12th highlighted share sales by directors of HSBC (HSBA, 746p) at between 766p and 884p. We suggested that HSBCs outperformance against the other (UK) banks would come to an end as concerns over emerging markets grew. 

Since October 12th HSBC shares are down 6% absolute or down 16% against the FTSE 100.

Misys- Allscripts

The Wall Street Journal (November 5th WSJ ‘Inside Track’) picked up our story on the purchase of $350k of Allscripts (MDRX) by Misys CEO Mike Lawrie. Misys also announced that Glen Tullman, the CEO of Allscripts, had also bought shares in Allscripts, investing $511k by buying 100,000 shares at $5.11 on October 27th.

Allscripts (MDRX, $7.00) are up 26% since our comment of October 30.

Haynes – growth in DIY car care?

Since our comment of August 31st ‘Haynes directors buy for first time in 6 years‘ we have seen significant further purchases: Chairman JHC Haynes has bought 135,000 shares at between 150p and 155p, on November 3rd and 5th. Digitallook (website) say that takes him to 235,000 shares.

In Haynes’ (HYNS, 150p) First quarter Interim report to end August, the group announced they had seen sales in auto repair manuals up 10% in the US market and up 5% in the UK market (in local currency) for the quarter (for full interim statement see here, click on Press Releases). 

Next news? The interim statement in January.

International Personal Finance plc

Four directors have been buying shares in this doorstep provider of small loans in emerging markets. With their direct relationship with the borrowers, IPF (IPF 146p) are probably in a better position than the more remote large cap banks, and I suggest that the directors of the company have greater knowledge of current trading activity.

Next news is the mid December pre closing analyst briefing. See November 7th comment ‘ Loans provider Intl Personal Finance sees directors buying shares’.

Directors ARE buying shares.

Following our suggestion in last weeks Weekly Review that Directors Dealings were signalling a bottom in the stock market, we’ve looked at Directors Dealing activity in the smaller cap indices using the excellent Digitallook visual tools.

We looked at Directors dealings over one month, and counted the number of companies showing net selling of greater than GBP 50k versus net buying of greater than GBP 50k.

FTSE 350 showed 7 sells vs 52 buys

FTSE Small Cap showed 4 sells vs 21 buys, and

FTSE Aim showed 1 sell vs 46 buys !!!

 

Disclosure: The author holds share positions in the following: Misys, Haynes.

For all comments on the companies mentioned, use the ‘SEARCH’ box to the left of this post to search the followthedirectors site.

Directors Buying signalling market bottom?

I was surprised on Friday to see such a turnaround in directors sentiment ‘Directors ARE buying shares. Buys outnumber Sells 10 to 1’.

Data on Directors Dealings from Digitallook (site here) showed that over the month of October Directors Buys in the FT 350 companies outnumbered Directors Sells by almost 10:1.

This is a sharp change from data I ran on October 10th, which showed Buys and Sells at similar levels for the prior month.

Is this a turning point for the market? What is the precedent?

I used the Digitallook Screening Tools product to screen for Directors buys over GBP 50k, and sells over GBP 50k, and looked at the market turn in early 2003, when the FTSE rallied by 1/3rd in 12 months.

Through 2002 and 2003 Buys to Sells are in the ratio of between 1:1 and 2:1 for most of the month periods analysed.  In August and September 2002 this jumped to 4:1 and 3:1 respectively, then fell back to 1 1/2:1 and 2:1 for the following two months.

In December 2002 the Buy to Sell ratio popped up to 5:1, and the market didn’t look back for 30%, rallying 900 points to 4500 over the next twelve months. 

The ratio of Directors buys to sells dropped back in January, but was consistently in the 1.5:1 to 2:1 range for the subsequent six months. 

Is it time to buy the market now? All I can say is that investors today have substantially less confidence in the information available with which to make investment decisions. With this information vacuum, I believe that Directors Dealings play a more substantial role in telling us what is going on inside companies.

UK Engineers. 30 Directors buying shares.

The market killed the UK Engineering stocks on news of dismal results and orders in the truck and autos sector, and also justified concern that expansion at mines and oilfields will be delayed, trimmed back, or pulled completely.

So it is with interest then that we’ve seen, over the last two weeks, a substantial number of directors buying shares in GKN, IMI, Weir, John Wood, Bodycote, Laird and Senior.

I don’t know much about these companies, but I do know they are often the world leaders in their product areas, that historically they have been pretty good at generating cash, and have also attracted bid attention in the recent past (Bodycote).

And I also know that the 30 directors who have bought shares know a lot more than me about the valuation of their businesses.

For all comments by followthedirectors over the last week on the companies mentioned above see here.

Misys CEO Buys $350k stake in Allscripts.

If you are a Misys investor you should ask your broker about Allscripts (MDRX). Is Allscripts a cheaper way to buy a faster growing portion (Medical) of Misys’ business?

CEO of Misys, Mike Lawrie seems to think that Allscripts is the way to go. He has invested $350k in the group (our comment here). Misys now own more than 50% of the company which has 60m shares outstanding. Bloomberg show a short position of 6m shares, so this could prove to be rather interesting in both the near and long term.

Carnival dividend cut.

I wondered how long the bad news would take to come out of Carnival, the cruise business. They have suspended their dividend, saving $1bn + a year. 

In June and August the CEO and COO took $4.5m out of the company. CCL is down 23% since our comment of August 5th ‘Chilling out or downside risk’, underperforming the FTSE by 5%. I suspect we’ll see further negative comment on bookings over the next few months.

 

Disclosure: The author has positions in Misys, Weir, IMI, Senior, Laird, Bodycote, John Wood.

Firstly I want to thank all of the respondents to my question as to how to improve this website. I very much appreciate you taking the time to help me improve this product. THANKYOU. If you have any further comments, please send them in !

A summary of my thoughts from last week (click on stock name to get the article/post) :

Axis Shield (ASD) – Signal strength MEDIUM –  Positive- Ex Chairman of Axis (before merger with Shield) Erik Hornnaess, is seen to be payer pretty high levels for shares in his alma mater Axis Shield. The stock is up 40% relative to the market so far this year. This is postive for two reasons: a) as a non exec he knows what’s going on within the group. b) as an ex chairman he knows this business inside out. Also- if you look back you’ll see he is supported by consistent buying from directors earlier in the year.

Reckitt Benckiser (RB.)- no signal- interesting activity nonetheless, with EVP de Groot buying aggressively, and CEO Bart Becht selling shares he exercised earlier.

RBS (RBS)- Weak signal – Negative – The whole board of RBS subscribed for shares at 200p in the June offering. Now we see two directors selling. Either they need the cash, or they think there is downside risk in the shares. Or both.

Rathbones (RAT)- Medium signal- Negative – Two directors of Rathbone have taken advantage of a 50% jump in the share price to top slice their positions in the group. It is interesting to see the same thing happening at another private client broker/adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, where three directors are selling.

Tate and Lyle (TATE) – Strong signal- Positive- Six directors bought shares last week after the shares fell 10% on a court ruling. Since October last year seven directors out of a board of 10 have been buying shares, a significant proportion.

ITV (ITV) – Weak signal- Positive- CFO, Director of Television, and Deputy Chairman have all bought shares in the last week at around 1/3rd of last years share price. We may start to see more news on costcutting at the group, although I need to see more directors share buying before being convinced. In the meantime ITV goes on the watchlist. 

AIG (AIG) – no signal- my thoughts on Hank Greenberg reportedly selling shares in AIG whilst lending his support to the ‘rescue’.

Disclosure: I have a position in Axis Shield.

Wow. Aren’t you exhausted? What a week that was. Thrilling too. You never knew what was going to come at you next!

Question for you:   How can I improve my commentary on directors dealings, or change the layout of these pages so that the information is more easily accessible by you. Please type your comments and any other suggestions or questions you may have in the ‘COMMENT’ box below. I very much value your feedback.

To skip straight to my commentary on each company type the stock name in the ‘SEARCH’ box to the left of here.

We’ve seen a few sells this week. Stocks worth noting for directors selling activity are Savills (SVS), De La Rue (DLAR), and Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.).

Savills (SVS) directors have been a pretty good signal for future share price performance, but the disclaimer must be ‘the past is no guide to the future, you can lose everything in the stock market’. On the positive side availability of capital should lead to some pick up in activity in real estate, on the negative side look at Savills huge cost base.

Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) directors say ‘Volatility will impact profit growth’. CFO and Head of Accounting have been selling.

De La Rue (DLAR) CEO and CFO both sold this week, taking profits in a stock which is up 50% relative to the FTSE 250 index. Maybe the good news is all in the price.

On the buy side:

Shire (SHP) directors have been consistent buyers. They have a track record. And five of them are buying. Definitely worth a look.

New World Resources (NWS) fall of 50% in the last three weeks has prompted a number of directors to buy. This coal miner and coke producer is, of course, highly vulnerable to a slowdown in economic activity. The directors seem to be more confident than the stock market.

Heritage Oil (HOIL). We’ve seen a number of buyers in small oil companies over the last two to three weeks, including ROC, Arawak, Heritage, and Serica. This may signal a support level for the energy sector.

And what about Prudential (PRU)? Mark Tucker CEO invested GBP 100k on Monday 15th September at just shy of 500p. He bought 20,000 shares taking his holding to 1.5m shares. I don’t interprete this transaction to be a valuable signal as

  1.  
    1. Only Tucker is buying, no other directors, and
    2. This is a tiny increase in his existing holding. 

Granted, he is up 20% on GBP 100k in a week. Time will tell.

Enjoy the week ahead. Keep calm and think of the long term.

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