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.

The week's buying

Company

Closing Price, May 15

Total Value of Stock Purchased

52-Week Change

California Coastal Communities (NASDAQ:CALC)

$17.27

$266,357

(49%)

Church & Dwight (NYSE:CHD)

$49.30

$376,310

34%

Coley Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:COLY)

$8.46

$1,631,560

(42%)

Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS)

$77.97

$486,272

13%

Toreador Resources (NASDAQ:TRGL)

$13.67

$1,600,236

(49%)

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

Is Las Vegas Sands worth a gamble?
Much as I like the occasional gambling trip, gaming stocks usually don't interest me. That changes this week, with reports of insider buying at billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands resort empire.

Two directors have been buying stock: Irwin Siegel, who purchased 1,000 shares a week ago, and Andrew Heyer, who has padded his position with 5,000 stubs since May 4. Together, they've spent nearly half a million in a week.

But Heyer's buying is what interests me most. He's been a director since last summer, and a successful investor in leveraged companies since the 1980s. Today, he's the managing partner of private equity firm Trimaran Capital.

Why is he buying? A 2001 press release announcing the end of a fundraising round may provide some clues:

We use a value-driven, flexible investment approach that allows us to take advantage of market opportunities. In fact, the name of the fund epitomizes the agility and partnership with which Trimaran operates. The dictionary defines a trimaran as a fast sailboat with three parallel hulls.

Cute. But can there really be value in a stock that trades for 68 times trailing earnings? Those rating Las Vegas Sands in our Motley Fool CAPS investor intelligence database seem unsure:

Metric

Las Vegas Sands

CAPS stars (out of 5)

***

Total ratings

475

Bullish ratings

439

Bull ratio

92.4%

Bearish ratings

36

Bear ratio

7.6%

Bullish pitches

96

Bearish pitches

8

Data current as of May 15.

So, it would seem, is Jeff Hwang, our Foolish expert on all things gaming. Quoting from his analysis of the casino operator's most recent results:

The vast majority of LVS' value is based on hotel and casino operations that don't yet exist. Just this year, LVS will  double the number of casino operations, with the opening of the Venetian Macao due in late August, and the Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip to follow in the Fall. In addition to the rest of the Macau developments, LVS will also open a 5,000-slot casino in Bethlehem, Pa. -- 70 miles from downtown Manhattan -- in 2008, while the Marina Bay Sands project in Singapore is slated for a 2009 opening.

Translation: Further growth seems assured. But we don't yet know whether enough growth is already priced into the stock.

Heyer is betting that investors are lowballing it. With more than a billion Chinese just a short flight away from Macau, I'm inclined to agree, and I've added Las Vegas Sands to my CAPS watch list as a result.

That's all for now. See you back here next week, when we dig through more insider deals in search of the next home run stock.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 6,116 out of more than 28,700 in CAPS, usually favors two scoops of ice cream over the inside scoop. Tim didn't own stock in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Tim's portfolio holdings can be found at his Fool profile. His thoughts on insider buying, Foolishness, and investing in general may be found in his blog. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy only stays inside when it has to.


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