Insider buying in the open market is generally considered a bullish indicator. Corporate insiders often have an exclusive view into the company's prospects, and their incomes typically are tied closely to their company's stock. Often a big chunk of that income is in the form of stock options or restricted stock. What's more, diversification argues for minimizing exposure to any one company rather than adding to it with insider buys.

While insider selling may indicate nothing more than a college tuition bill coming due, a home remodeling or a high-end vacation, buying is typically a sign the insider expects the stock to rise. Buying in the open market could be considered more bullish than exercising stock options because the insider found some other way to fund the purchase.

With that in mind, I ran a screen to find companies that have had at least one insider make an open market buy in the last 30 days. Here are five consumer services stocks that made the list:


Net Number of Buys

Number of Shares Bought

Total Value

Market Cap ($million)

Scientific Games (Nasdaq: SGMS)





Biglari Holdings (NYSE: BH)





Life Time Fitness (NYSE: LTM)





Einstein Noah Restaurant Group (Nasdaq: BAGL)





Mac-Gray (NYSE: TUC)





Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, as of 6/30/11

When it comes to the number and total value of insider open market buys, more could be considered better. The table is sorted accordingly. For example, the open market purchase of Scientific Games is worth more than $9 million, compared with the open market purchase of Mac-Gray totaling $38,000. Both are bullish signs, but the Scientific Games sign is more likely to be marking an on-ramp you want to take.

Foolish takeaway
Insider buying is a sign that someone who should be in the know is betting that the stock is going to rise. You can use this list of open-market, insider purchases in the past 30 days to generate research ideas, or perhaps even to reinforce a contrarian view.

Are these insiders right? To help you find out, the Motley Fool recently introduced a free My Watchlist feature. You can get up-to-date news and analysis by adding companies to your Watchlist now:

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.