Who's Buying Now?

It's a new week, which means it's time to check the most interesting insider purchases. After reading through numerous filings using insider tracking tool Form 4 Oracle, here are my top five from the past seven days:

The week's buying

Company

Closing Price 8/8/06

Total Value of Stock Purchased

52-Week Change

Carbo Ceramics (NYSE: CRR  )

$38.80

$1,141,632

(35%)

Secure Computing (Nasdaq: SCUR  )

$6.17

$24,840

(50%)

Vonage Holdings (NYSE: VG  )

$6.93

$1,259,451

(60%)

Websense (Nasdaq: WBSN  )

$18.56

$465,602

(20%)

Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN  )

$71

$30,133,064

34%

Sources: Fool.com, Yahoo! Finance, Form 4 Oracle, SEC filings

Trying to make sense of Websense
Some stocks leave me perpetually curious. Websense is one. One the one hand, its filtering software has never been more necessary. Viruses are everywhere, spyware remains a threat, and employees will always be tempted to visit the darker recesses of the Web during work hours. On the other hand, digital security has become such a huge business that everyone wants in, which may be why billings haven't pleased the Street in recent quarters.

What's more, Websense says it's in the midst of a transformation to a wider distribution model, which could continue to be disruptive to business. But "disruptive" is a relative term here. Websense, after all, earns a 92% gross margin. It also sports a pristine balance sheet, with $338 million in cash and zero debt.

Now, some of that excess capital will be used to boost returns. On the same day that it reported second-quarter results, Websense announced that its board has authorized executives to repurchase up to 12 million shares of its stock. (5.2 million stubs have already been acquired for an average price of $24.17, or 30% above yesterday's close.)

It's tempting to heap praise on executives for using capital to further the interests of shareholders. There's just one problem: dilution. For example, from December to June, options outstanding ballooned by 40%, though most of that was due to a grant of 1.2 million shares to new CEO Gene Hodges, who joined the company from McAfee (NYSE: MFE  ) in January.

To be fair, only 27% of Websense's outstanding options are exercisable and immediately dilutive to shareholders. Meanwhile, Hodges isn't waiting till he vests to get skin in the game. One week ago, he purchased 25,000 shares on the open market for $465,602, or roughly 89% of his $525,000 base annual salary. I won't be making a similar commitment anytime soon -- I'm just a common Fool, after all -- but color me intrigued that Hodges is buying at the same time the company is investing in its own shares.

Vonage: Buyers calling?
Last time there was insider buying at Vonage, it looked like a stunt. Not this time. Last Friday, chairman and chief strategist Jeffrey Citron spent $665,000, then $594,000 more, to add 188,000 shares to his portfolio.

That's a big commitment, even if it doesn't do much to pad Citron's already massive position in the stock. (He beneficially owns more than 48 million shares, or 31% of the total outstanding.) Nevertheless, Citron's buying should be a bullish sign. I just don't see how. Vonage is still bleeding cash, and whatever discernible competitive advantage it has -- seriously, is there one? -- is being legally challenged by Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) . Better let someone else answer the call for these shares.

And that's all for this week. See you back here next Wednesday when we dig through more insider deals in search of the next home run stock.

Get the inside scoop on stocks of all sizes with this related Foolishness:

McAfee is aMotley Fool Stock Advisorselection, while Websense was a former Stock Advisor pick.

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Fool contributorTim Beyersusually favors two scoops of ice cream over the inside scoop. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.


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