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Are These CEOs Telling You to Buy?

Famed money manager Peter Lynch told us executives can sell their stock for any reason, but typically buy only for one: They think the price is going to go up!

Today, I've highlighted two insiders who've recently made big purchases of their own company's stock. These aren't option grants, but rather insiders putting their own money on the line, buying shares at market prices just like you and me.

I then paired that information with insights from the members of Motley Fool CAPS to see if they think the stock has the same prospects the insiders do.



Market Value of Transactions

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  )

George Mikan, CEO

$1.8 million


Continental Resources   (NYSE: CLR  )

Harold Hamm, chairman & CEO

$7.2 million


Source: Company filings.

Although following the lead of insiders can be profitable, we still recommend you do further due diligence to determine whether these stocks ought to be sold from your own portfolio -- or would make a good addition! So this isn't a list of stocks to sell or buy -- just the inside track on companies you might want to check out further.

Big buy at Best Buy
As if losing a good portion of its business to (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) isn't bad enough, electronics superstore Best Buy is still reeling from the scandal that saw its CEO and chairman forced to resign. The combination one-two punch has sent its stock plummeting and led many analysts to logically conclude Best Buy is a busted brand that needs a dramatic change in focus to survive.

Yet the operational issues that have weighed down the retailer may actually have a clearer path to resolution now that the executive suite has been cleared out. Relying upon high-pressure sales tactics is never a good idea and indicates a sign of desperation on management's part to prop up profits, but new management means fresh eyes and a possible way out of the morass. That the interim CEO has bet such a large sum of money on the stock suggests he's hopeful a change will be under way.

It will be hard to achieve, though. The bricks-and-mortar model isn't completely doomed, but the experience of Radio Shack (NYSE: RSH  ) and hhgregg, let alone the demise of Circuit City, indicates the market may not be able to support so many competing visions when cheaper online alternatives are available.

CAPS member CoreAndExplore agrees that there will be fewer big-box participants in the future, but he's not one who sees Best Buy being a part of that select group that makes the cut: "May get a dead cat bounce at best, otherwise the slide will continue relatively unabated due to dwindling market share."

Add Best Buy to your watchlist to keep track of the change in course, then let us know on the Best Buy CAPS page if you think the interim CEO is just putting on a brave face.

Location, location, location
You have to give it to Continental Resources chairman Harold Hamm -- he's not afraid to make a big bet on his company. Last year, he sunk over $5 million into his company with a market purchase of stock, and he's back at it again with another $7 million tranche. Considering his last investment has appreciated over 50% since it was made, investors may want to take note of the latest one.

Analysts are expecting the Bakken shale region to continue being the key to domestic production with regulators in North Dakota calling for it to double to more than a billion barrels a day by 2015. Hamm says he thinks they're not far off the mark, though he believes the estimates are low.

Although it can seem as though you can stick a rig anywhere in the Bakken these days and find oil, Hess (NYSE: HES  ) is proving that's not the case. Its stock was hit after it said 2012 production would fall below its goal because it was drilling in less productive regions. Which underscores the value to be found in Continental: It was one of the first oil companies to drill in the Bakken and hasn't experienced any similar problems, with first-quarter production levels 14% higher than the year-ago period.

CAPS member MHenage says you don't have to drill too far to see that Continental is a smooth operator: "Size matters in the oil industry, Continental is starting to see the fruits of its investments. Company's revenue has increased every quarter for the last 3 years. Good balance sheet, good growth expected."

Add Continental Resources to the Fool's free portfolio tracker, then let us know on the Continental Resources CAPS page if you think it has all the prime acreage in this important shale region.

On the inside track
If the health care field piques your interest, The Motley Fool has identified one company that isn't buying up everything in sight but will still generate monster returns. Read which health care stock is making all the right moves in the special free report, "Discover the Next Rule-Breaking Multibagger," but hurry, because it's available for only a limited time.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Best Buy, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of RadioShack,, and Best Buy. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of and hhgregg. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 31, 2012, at 9:06 AM, beta2uralpha wrote:

    Mr. Mikan's purchase was likely made to help him change the "interim" part of his new CEO title to "permanent."

    If he gets the permanent position, his $1.8 million investment almost doubles even if the stock price stays exactly the same because he'll receive twice as much in recurring compensation. His current compensation as interim CEO is right around $3.3 million. Read the article in the link below, it provides significant insight which when linked with the purchase of the stock, helps to explain it.

    The purchase is a very clever way of helping him lock up the permanent position since it boosts the stock price short term and the higher the stock price goes, the greater the chances are that he will be named permanent CEO. It also gives him additional leverage because board members will have to wonder how the market will react if he dumps the stock in the event he is not named permanent CEO.

    The new "turnaround" plan amounts to nothing more than trying to cut footprint. Mikan's Q1 "sacred cow" speech amounts to nothing more than turning BBY into the next RadioShack (RSH).

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