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 today.

The week's buying

Company

Closing Price 3/26/08

Total Value Purchased 3/20/08-3/26/08

52-Week Change

Eddie Bauer (NASDAQ:EBHI)

$4.10

$43,822

(59.4%)

Harris & Harris (NASDAQ:TINY)

$6.98

$177,072

(46.3%)

IndyMac Bancorp (NYSE:IMB)

$6.00

$0

(79.9%)

Omrix Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:OMRI)

$13.74

$524,734

(63.5%)

Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN)

$46.14

$1,021,172

(16.8%)

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

Taking smack from IndyMac
When I named IndyMac Bancorp one of the world's worst stocks earlier this month, it was because CEO Michael Perry had secured a contract that prevents cuts in his base salary. I still don't think that's right.

But there's logic in the response IndyMac PR sent to me recently. Quoting:

You are correct that Mr. Perry did not take the base salary cut, but this was because he did not receive a 2007 cash bonus and will not receive a 2008 cash bonus. He is the only manager, of approximately 900 IndyMac senior and middle managers, who will receive no bonus for both 2007 and 2008 ... as a result, his cash compensation (salary and short-term incentive bonus) was down 44%. In comparison, 2007 short term bonuses for the next five highest paid executives at IndyMac were down on average 44% in 2007; total salary plus short-term bonuses for this group were down on average 20% from 2006. Average total compensation for all IndyMac employees companywide was down 11% in 2007 versus 2006.

Fair enough. I still don't see why Perry can't be allowed to take a salary hit, but he's clearly suffering right along with the others at IndyMac. What's interesting is that while Perry obviously isn't happy with where his company is today, he also appears to believe a turnaround is in the works. Quoting from the recently filed proxy statement:

Just as you are not pleased with IndyMac's performance, I can assure you that we are not pleased either. But I can also assure you that we are working tirelessly to fight our way through the tough market we are facing, and I am confident that IndyMac will be a survivor and will emerge as a stronger competitor than ever once the housing and mortgage markets do recover.

Our 93,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community has its doubts:

Metric

IndyMac Bancorp

CAPS stars (5 max)

*

Total ratings

687

Bullish ratings

314

Percent Bulls

45.7%

Bearish ratings

373

Percent Bears

54.3%

Bullish pitches

75

Bearish pitches

47

Data current as of March 27, 2008.

I still do, too, but I'm less bearish today than I was a few weeks ago. Not because the business has changed, but because of the way executives have changed their thinking on the stock. Since my earlier article ran, 10 insiders have bought shares, including IndyMac's top auditor and its chief risk officer. Perhaps Perry will be next?

The view's best at the top
For investors -- especially those investors who take the teachings of master investor Philip Fisher seriously -- scuttlebutt is more than gossip. It's intelligence.

I'm among that group who treasures what Fisher's books have taught me. So you can imagine my delight when, on a snowboarding boondoggle for our kids this past weekend, I had the opportunity to talk with some local skiers about the consolidation of resorts in the area and how that's increased convenience -- one pass, more ski destinations -- and prices. Higher prices mean higher margins, Fool. Higher margins usually precipitate improved cash flow.

The company behind all this? Vail Resorts, a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick that may still be cheap. If, that is, you believe the executives know what they're doing. One week ago today, CEO Robert Katz spent $1 million to boost his direct position in Vail Resorts by 39%.

Color me impressed. Vail Resorts joins my CAPS watch list today.

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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Read/Post Comments (2) | 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 March 28, 2008, at 1:16 PM, murrayperson wrote:

    Michael Perry has bought several million $ lately buying IMB common stk on the open market.

  • Report this Comment On March 28, 2008, at 2:06 PM, AmusednBefuddled wrote:

    If you've ever done business with Indymac, you'd sing a different tune. Their accounting is "creative" and their practices unethical to the max. If they survive, then we're all screwed because blatant corruption has won. If the Average Joe pulled the tricks Perry is pulling, he'd be in jail so fast it would make his head spin. I thought fools based their opinions on people who actually keep up close and personal watch on the stocks they chose. If so, you missed it on Indymac.

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