Preparing for Profits

As interest rates climb, insiders at insurance and global bank holding companies prepare for handsome returns while some insiders at big banks do the same

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Yamil Berard
Aug 01, 2018
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Insiders in the global bank holding sector, as well as the insurance, property and casualty sector, spurred by the likelihood of rising interest rates, are in a dash to buy shares, recent disclosures collected by GuruFocus showed.

Just in the last few days, a Who’s Who list of company brass from a series of regional commercial and retail lenders tied to larger financial entities have piled on shares in the hundreds of thousands for investments valued in the millions of dollars, if not billions.

These insider buys have included everyone from the CEO to the chairman of the board and top directors, chief counsels and chief operating officers. The public filings maintained by GuruFocus are as of July 31. For example, financial holding company Bridgewater Bancshares Inc. (

BWB, Financial) CEO Jerry Baack bought shares, based on July 31 disclosures.  Insurer Kingsway Financial Services (KFS) rose more than 5% to $3.05 a share just a day after a disclosure that several of its top executives had bought its shares.

Among the nation’s big global banks, which often play by a different set of rules, it’s been just the opposite. Many of their executives have been busy dumping shares. (If you recall, about a month ago, many of the big banks announced major stock buybacks along with quarterly dividend increases. At least two of banks, Goldman Sachs (

GS, Financial) and Morgan Stanley (MS, Financial) were required to keep their capital distributions unchanged. The incentive to buy back shares may explain some of the recent sale activity.)

Executives at Goldman and Morgan Stanley engaged in a selloff over the last several months, disclosures show. In February, Morgan Stanley’s Deputy CFO Paul Wirth, CEO James Gorman and Chief Legal Officer Eric Grossman all dumped shares. Goldman’s chief of the human resources department and the head of investment also sold shares. COO David Solomon dumped more than 8,300 shares, according to a July 18 filing.

At Citibank (

C, Financial), Chief Accounting Officer Raja Akram sold 500 shares, according to disclosures on July 19. At Wells Fargo (WFC, Financial), Director Ronald Sargent bought shares early this year. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM, Financial) Directors Todd Combs, of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.A, Financial) (BRK.B, Financial), and Mellody Hobson each bought more than 13,000 shares of the bank’s stock in recent months.

GuruFocus industry overview pages show the nation’s big banks hold the bulk of the market share. US Bankcorp (

USB, Financial) and other banks are smaller in terms of market cap.

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Insider trades among bank holding companies

Executives from global insurance property and casualty company Kingsway Financial Services (

KFB, Financial) have been busy this week. The company provides coverage for liability, accident benefits and physical damage. New purchases were made by CEO Larry G. Swets Jr., President and COO Larry G. Swets and CFO William August Hickey Jr. The company has a market cap of $65 billion. Trades were reflected on July 31.

Other buys were made by executives at the following entities, Howard Bancorp Inc. (HBMD), First Financial Bankcorp (FFBC), General Finance Corp. (GFN), Synchrony Financial (SYF), First Community Bancshares Inc. (FCBC), General Finance Corp. (GFN), Hanmi Financial Corp. (HAFC), Bankfirst Corp. (BANF), Century Bankcorp (CNBKA) and Bank of the James Financial Group (BOTJ).

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