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 for today.

Company

Closing Price 12/24/07

Total Value Purchased

52-Week Change

General Growth Properties (NYSE:GGP)

$43.73

$1,029,121

(15.84%)

Isle of Capri Casinos (NASDAQ:ISLE)

$14.35

$1,005,675

(46.40%)

NCI Building Systems (NYSE:NCS)

$28.31

$593,568

(45.84%)

Resources Connection (NASDAQ:RECN)

$18.78

$148,900

(41.20%)

Universal Forest Products (NASDAQ:UFPI)

$32.69

$93,139

(30.79%)

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

Abundant resources?
Stay invested long enough, and you'll buy shares of a company that utterly frustrates you. Resources Connection has been like that for Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers.

Twice, this provider of accounting and other financial consulting and risk-management services has been added to Tom Gardner's side of the scorecard. Twice it's been a laggard. A double-digit laggard.

Yet our 78,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community simply won't give up on the stock.

Metric

Resources Connection

CAPS stars (5 max)

****

Total ratings

160

Bullish ratings

148

Bull ratio

92.5%

Bearish ratings

12

Bear ratio

7.5%

Bullish pitches

20

Bearish pitches

0

Data current as of Dec. 26.

Are they crazy? Maybe. The company whiffed again in reporting second-quarter earnings recently.

But there's also a strong business case for what Resources Connection does. Helping firms get smarter about regulatory compliance -- Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance, in particular -- is big business for consultants. Research shows that between 47% and 60% of SOX spending in 2006 went for external audits. Wowza.

If only Resources Connection could bank this increase in spending. Gross margin has declined in recent years, and returns on capital have turned south. Return on capital isn't too bad, though: 15.8% over the trailing 12 months, which beats the numbers at consulting peers BearingPoint (NYSE: BE  ) and Electronic Data Systems (NYSE: EDS  ) .

That seems to be enough for insiders. Both new CFO Nate Franke and Chief Operating Officer Anthony Cherbak bought shares last week. More than $140,000 in personal wealth is now on the line.

Impressed? Me, too. But I'd prefer to see Franke reverse the margin erosion that's plagued his employer before I'd join him as an investor. On to the watch list with you, Resources Connection.

Waiting for the general to charge
Insider buying patterns can also be frustrating. Take a look at real estate investment trust General Growth Properties, where company president Robert Michaels last week liquidated 12% of his stake in the company. All in one day.

And he's not alone. Chief Development Officer Jean Schlemmer dumped 75,000 shares at $41.30 apiece exactly one week ago. Interestingly, she's on the losing side of that trade.

Perhaps her peers are to blame. Three other insiders were buying at roughly the same point at which Schlemmer was selling. CFO Bernard Freibaum, taking the biggest bite, spent more than $600,000 to acquire 16,000 shares.

No surprises there. Freibaum has made several purchases over the past 18 months.

I'd love to believe that he has it right this time. But history says otherwise: The bulk of his purchases of General Growth stock are colored a deep shade of red. Proceed with caution, Fool.

There's your update. See you back here next week, when we dig through more insider filings in search of the next home run stock.

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