Consider an insider indicator calculated by the Vickers Weekly Insider Report, published by Argus Research. The indicator is a ratio of all shares that insiders have recently sold in the open market to the number that they have purchased.
For the week that ended last Friday, this sell-to-buy ratio for NYSE-listed shares listed stood at 9.20-to-1. That means insiders of these companies, on average, were selling more than nine shares of their firms’ stock for every one that they were buying.
The last time a weekly sell-to-buy ratio was worse than this was in late July 2011, right before that year’s debt-ceiling debate began to spiral out of control. Over the next couple of weeks, of course, as the U.S. Treasury’s credit rating was downgraded, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA +0.35% lost some 2,000 points.
To be sure, insiders have been selling heavily for several weeks now, and the market has continued to rise — including the Dow’s eclipsing of the 14,000 level in recent sessions. This surprising strength in the face of insider selling has prompted a number of you to inquire how unusual it is for the insiders collectively to be such poor market timers.