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Tim Bolton Carter, the Investment Director at Rathbone Brothers (RAT, 808p), has made a small purchase of 1000 shares at 758p (March 30th London Stock Exchange). We’ve seen only sales by directors of Rathbones for the last six months, on which we based our negative view.

But this is the first purchase, and may signal a change in sentiment within the group.

We close our negative view on Rathbone Brothers.

Note of September 25th: ‘Rathbone private client managers sell down holdings’. (1060p)

Since then, Rathbones shares have fallen 24%, which is 8% worse than the market.

View on Rathbones: Neutral

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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.

 

Up almost 50% from Julys low (730p), Rathbone (RAT, 1060p) (chart) are seeing a couple of their Executive Directors take advantage of a strong share price to reduce their exposure.

Richard Smeeton has sold (on 19/9/08) 12,000 shares at 1035p taking his holding to 115,673 shares, and Andrew Morris has sold (23/9/08) 11,791 shares at 1063p, taking his holding down to 41,268 shares.

Another two directors (Ian Buckley and Richard Loader) have also sold, but in much smaller size. 

These trades echo selling at Hargreaves Lansdowne (see my posts here), also up 50% from the lows, where three directors continue to sell.

Four directors selling, but not a significant portion of their holding, warrants a MEDIUM strength signal. The risks lie on the downside.

Addendum October 14th:

Further sales have been reported as follows:

Clive Hexton, on the board of Rathbone Investment Management, has sold 5200 shares at 983p taking his holding to 8700 shares (October 6th), and

Hugh Adlington, at Rathbones Investment Management London, has sold 10,000 shares at 987p, taking his holding to 44,000 shares (October 3rd).

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