Stocks the Rich Executives Are Buying

Put five Fools in a room, ask them how they invest, and you'll likely get five different answers. Some like growth, others value, or small caps, or dividends, or … well, you get the picture.

Yet, while our styles differ, we all want excellent, engaged managers running the companies we own. We like it even more when these managers are also owners -- investors like you and me who, in trying times like these, are willing to buy as others sell. That's why I write this column weekly.

The week's buying
So which rich executives are buying now? Have a look, courtesy of our friends at Form 4 Oracle:

Company

Closing Price 10/21/08

Total Value Purchased

52-Week Change

BE Aerospace (Nasdaq: BEAV  )

$11.20

$494,188

(74.3%)

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  )

$24.53

$49,680

(47.1%)

Prospect Capital (Nasdaq: PSEC  )

$11.39

$1,905,042

(15.4%)

Steel Dynamics (Nasdaq: STLD  )

$10.74

$1,211,827

(57.5%)

United Natural Foods (Nasdaq: UNFI  )

$21.35

$477,215

(22.2%)

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

A better prospect for your portfolio
Rarely does a stock jock like me get excited about funds. I'd much rather build a portfolio than buy one. Most of the time, anyway. Count Prospect Capital among the exceptions.

Prospect isn't exactly a fund. Rather, it's a business development company that holds a portfolio of investments in debt and equity. Foolish colleague Jim Gillies provided an apt description of the business when recommending the stock to Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt subscribers:

To get an idea of the types of deals Prospect works out, think of it this way: You're a small company that produces gas (the petrol type, that is), and you need more money to grow your business. Prospect can provide you with debt and equity financing directly, or it may partner with a private equity group to do the same. As an alternative, it could buy controlling ownership of your business. Aside from that, Prospect is also prone to grabbing equity interests in investee companies, which (hopefully) end up producing dividends and capital gains.

Instruments vary. Prospect will sometimes take equity. More often, it'll invest debt and collect very large yields. Senior secured notes it holds for Worcester Energy Partners pay 12.5% annually, for example.

Notice the wording. We're talking about secured notes, debt that's backed by hard assets owned by the energy companies in which Prospect invests. Rigs and drilling equipment, for example; a far cry from the surprise-in-every-box credit derivatives that helped drive Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER  ) into the arms of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) .

That's a strong position made stronger when combined with a fat, sustainable dividend that yields 13.1% as of this writing. I'm happy to own shares of Prospect Capital. Our 120,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community is equally bullish:

Metric

Prospect Capital

CAPS stars (5 max)

*****

Total ratings

352

Bullish ratings

341

Percent Bulls

97%

Bearish ratings

11

Percent Bears

3%

Bullish pitches

60

Bearish pitches

2

Note: Data current as of Oct. 22, 2008.

"This is nuts. They are trading at far below book value with an insane (if the keep it going) dividend yield," wrote CAPS investor scraccag earlier this month. "Is there something I am missing or is this one of the best babies we can find in all the yucky bathwater?"

Insider buying suggests the latter. Over the past week, CEO John Barry has committed roughly $1.7 million to Prospect shares on behalf of the company's investment advisor, Prospect Capital Management.

Confused? Stay with me. Prospect is the company that holds a portfolio of assets but those assets were selected by an advisor, Prospect Capital Management, which Barry controls. So ... by investing $1.9 million, Barry is betting on the quality of the portfolio he and his team have built. I can't think of a more bullish sign.

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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Fool contributor Tim Beyers, thanks to the market meltdown, is ranked near the bottom in CAPS. He also writes for Rule Breakers. Get access to all of Tim's Foolish writings here.

Tim owned shares of Prospect Capital, a Motley Fool Hidden Gems Pay Dirt pick, at the time of publication. Best Buy is a recommendation of the Inside Value and Stock Advisor services. Bank of America is an Income Investor pick. The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy. It has a credit-worthy disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (1) | Recommend This Article (5)

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 October 23, 2008, at 11:07 PM, westend2001 wrote:

    Tim,

    You are right on your analysis of PSEC the company.

    But you are missed out on doing a proper due diligence on PSEC the management.

    John Berry, the CEO of PSEC, used to run Prospect Street NYC Discovery Fund, an SBA-backed private equity fund. The Fund lost more than 90% of its committed capital (lost approx. $300 million) and became the biggest flop in the history of SBA-backed funds. The fund was later forcefully taken in receivership from Mr. Berry by SBA. Surprisingly, there is no mention of this fund in the management bio section of PSEC's SEC filing.

    Another private equity fund managed by Mr. Berry met similar fate.

    We all strongly believe that a manager's past performance is a pretty good indicator of future performance (or at least gives a credible data point). Why Motley is ignoring past performance? Is motley fool fooling itself again?

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