The Business Times

The ins and outs of share buybacks

Insiders look at the future when buying for themselves, but buybacks are done for the present

Published Fri, Oct 24, 2014 · 09:50 PM
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IS it a hopeful sign for the stock market when executives and directors step up purchases of their companies' shares? It depends on whether they're trying to enrich themselves or their shareholders, and not in the way you might expect.

Corporate insiders have impeccable timing when buying stock for their own accounts. When the ratio of insider buying to selling is higher than normal at many companies at the same time, it tends to be near a market low.

That was the case in late 2008 and early 2009, towards the end of the last bear market. The ratio was at historically high levels for months, just before stocks tripled, according to Vickers Weekly Insider, a service that tracks such trading.

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