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Who's Buying Now?

It's time to check the most interesting insider purchases for the week.

After reading through numerous filings using insider tracking tool Form 4 Oracle, here are my top five this week.

The week's buying


Closing Price 9/26

Total Value Purchased

52-Week Change

Ashworth (NASDAQ:ASHW)




Goodyear Tire & Rubber (NYSE:GT)




Gray Television (NYSE:GTN)




Pep Boys  (NYSE:PBY)




ValueVision Media (NASDAQ:VVTV)




Sources:, Yahoo! Finance, Form 4 Oracle, SEC filings

Good times ahead for Goodyear?
As much as I loathe turnaround stock stories, I'll admit to having a soft spot for situations where managers are betting big with their own money on a revival. That's mostly been the case at Goodyear. I say "mostly" because Goodyear's president of engineered products, Tim Toppen, sold $1.85 million worth of stock via options in June.

But he's the only executive to sell over the past 52 weeks, according to Form 4 Oracle. Others are buying, even if the skeptics in our Motley Fool CAPS community aren't:



CAPS stars (5 max)


Total ratings


Bullish ratings


Bull ratio


Bearish ratings


Bear ratio


Bullish pitches


Bearish pitches


Data current as of Sept. 27, 2007.

I'm not so sure a two-star rating is justified. Financially, Goodyear's turnaround has been pretty impressive. Look at its balance sheet. Debt is down, from $7.2 billion at the end of last year to $5.5 billion in June. And that's after accounting for a $1 billion contribution to retirees' medical benefits.

Still, insiders wouldn't be buying shares unless growth was on the horizon. On this point, I think it's instructive to look at who at Goodyear is buying: Eduardo Fortunato, president of Goodyear's Latin American business, and Arthur de Bok, head of the European Union operation. Combined, they've snapped up more than $85,000 worth of stock since Sept. 19.

Why? Goodyear's last filed quarterly report may offer a clue. The EU tire group grew revenue 6%, and Latin America experienced a heady 18% gain. Contrast those results with North America, where tire sales fell nearly 3%.

That would be awful if Goodyear were as dependent on North America as it has always been, but that's not the case. Roughly 54% of Goodyear's revenue now comes from tires sold overseas, up from 51% a year ago.

No wonder Fortunato and de Bok are buying; they're on the front lines of Goodyear's growth story.

Searching for pep in Pep Boys
But, again, I loathe turnarounds. Pep Boys might help to illustrate why.

I first wrote about substantial insider buying at this ailing auto parts seller last November, when the stock traded for $13.40 a share. Where is it now? A shade above $14. That's not necessarily a knock on the business; it can take years to realize value. What we don't know is how much (or how little) value exists within the Pep Boys franchise.

Foolish colleague Lawrence Rothman, a chartered financial analyst, doesn't see much. Here's how he put it in covering earnings last month:

Management also assured investors that it has a number of short-term solutions in the works for the company's woes in other areas, such as focusing on variable pricing implementation, productive staffing levels, and ongoing tire promotions. Now, I'll grant that these tactics may have positive effects throughout the next quarter, or even the next year. But I don't see any of this helping the company in the long run, since it doesn't address the top line, which Pep Boys needs to boost if it wants to continue to succeed. [Emphasis mine.]

Don't tell that to management. It's still buying. Four different board members bought shares in the past week, including William Leonard, who had been interim CEO.

Someday, he and his peers may be rewarded for their faith. But with automakers suffering from labor strife and consumers suffering from high gas prices, what they really need is a miracle. Drive on by, Fool. Nothing to see here.

And that's your update. 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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