December 7, 2008

Are all insider traders created equal?

Insider trading is the practice of purchasing shares in your own company. In accordance with the Security and Exchange Commission the purchaser must file within a few days of the transaction. Filings can be found on the SEC's edgar page.

Insider trading is an important tool for value based investors. Insiders have a better understanding of their company, if nothing else they have seen the faces of people at the office, heard the chatter in the lunch room- they have a feel. Insiders are like any other investor- they sell for all sorts of reasons but only buy stock for one reason. When insiders speak we should all listen.

But are all insiders created equally? Well for fun I took all of the titles of insiders: CEO, CFO, CTO and compared their performance since 2003. I am looking for a few things:
  1. A low standard deviation in the role. (very, very, very important)
    Some titles are handed out like candy and making conclusions when you have two roles acting completely differently does not seem to serve much purpose.

  2. A high minimum return every quarter. (very, very important)
    I want a consistence of returns, 30% up followed by 30% down scares me.

  3. A high median return every quarter. (important)
    In the same what that I like consistent returns I would like to get what I can.

  4. A high max return every quarter. (a little important)
    I like to see a solid return just like the next guy.

I won't post all of my results here for each role, but here are the top 5:
officertitle STD Min Median Max
CHAIR 0.09 4.80% 22.08% 34.94%
TREASURER 0.10 5.56% 18.83% 39.36%
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD 0.08 1.74% 16.79% 31.37%
HUMAN RESOURCES 0.11 8.35% 19.11% 41.58%
BOARD MEMBER 0.12 2.09% 25.42% 60.85%