Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What's Happening: Shares of renewable oils manufacturer Solazyme (NASDAQ:TVIA) are up over 20% today after an SEC filing shows that director Jerry Fiddler purchased 80,000 shares on the open market Monday at an average price near $2.70 per share.
Why It's Happening: Solazyme has been mired in volatility after pivoting its commercialization strategy last November. That delayed the explosive growth in revenue investors were expecting from a leap in annual production volumes; from less than 2,000 metric tons to over 120,000 metric tons after two commercial-scale facilities reached full tilt. To put that into perspective, for the year ahead, less than 10,000 metric tons of production are expected to impact financial results.
Couple that with layoffs, a reshuffling of several members of management, and sparse operational updates (to be fair, it has only been four months since the pivot) and you could forgive investors for suffering from low morale.
Well, investors are interpreting Fiddler's purchase -- the first open-market purchase by a member of management in years -- as a big vote of confidence from Solazyme's top brass at a time when it's needed most. The 80,000 shares had a market value of roughly $216,000. That may be dwarfed by the $1.94 million in shares he sold through trading plans in 2014, but investors are focusing on the fact that shares were accumulated rather than disposed.
It's also interesting to note that Fiddler appeared to have rejected the opportunity Solazyme provided to employees earlier this year to swap options. The offer allowed employees to give up older stock options with higher trigger prices in return for half the shares that triggered at a much lower price. Fiddler appears to have strayed from other members of management by holding onto his previous options -- another decision that demonstrates his bullishness on the company.
I'll be careful to remind investors that there's still a long road ahead for Solazyme to reach profitability, which is demonstrated by a complete accounting of production costs. Nonetheless, as they say, insiders only buy for one reason.
Maxx Chatsko has no position in any stocks mentioned. Check out his personal portfolio, CAPS page, previous writing for The Motley Fool, and follow him on Twitter to keep up with developments in the synthetic biology field.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Solazyme. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.