Who's Buying Now?

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

Company

Closing price 9/19/05

52-week change

AmNet Mortgage (Nasdaq: AMNT  )

$10.19

+34%

Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK  )

$35.77

+138%*

Glacier Water (AMEX: HOO  )

$20.42

-4%

International Game Tech. (NYSE: IGT  )

$28.02

-14%*

Smith & Wesson (AMEX: SWB  )

$4.64

+148%

Sources: Fool.com, Yahoo! Finance
*Returns adjusted to include the effect of dividend payments.

AmNet, a wholesale mortgage bank, interests me most this week. The company announced last Tuesday that it had agreed to be acquired by Wachovia (NYSE: WB  ) for $10.30 a stub.

The very next morning, Flagg Street Capital, a Cambridge, Mass.-based hedge fund, started adding to its already sizeable 10% position in AmNet. By day's end, manager Jonathan Starr had juiced his holdings by nearly 50% for between $10.07 and $10.17 per share. Soon after its share buying was complete, Flagg Street sent a letter to AmNet's board of directors complaining that the Wachovia offer "substantially undervalues" the company.

Naturally, it's impossible to tell whether Flagg Street's opposition to the buyout as currently structured will have any effect on the price terms of the deal. But it's worth noting that highly regarded small-cap fund manager David Nierenberg, who is also a company director, has agreed to sell his 19% stake and support the merger.

Then there's gaming machine maker IGT. It, too, was the beneficiary of a hedge fund's interest. Only this hedge fund manager, Alson Capital Partners, happens to be run by IGT director Neil Barsky. Barsky bought 2.4 million shares of the company for his New York-based Alson Signature Funds.

I'd call that a remarkably bullish sign, except that Barsky's record isn't all that great. A July 2005 report from Auda Advisor Associates shows that Barsky's Signature Fund Offshore only began beating the S&P 500 this year after losing to the index in both 2004 and 2003. The fund began in October 2002.

Finally, I'll mention Chesapeake Energy one more time. I've reported over and over on CEO Aubrey McClendon's buying habits. This time, Company President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Ward joined the party, purchasing a little more than 300,000 shares last Wednesday. 'Nuff said.

That's all for this week. 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 usually 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 is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile here. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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