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Top Insider Trades: A Purchase and Sale at Liberty Media, and Bain Sells Again


Plus, purchases at SolarCity and Santarus, and a sale at Lamar Advertising.

In a victory for common sense, the trading behavior of company executives, directors, and large shareholders in the stocks of firms they're registered "insiders" at have been proven profitable to monitor by both academic studies and (more importantly) the experience of your fellow professional investors.

Below are lists of the top 10 mainly open-market insider purchases and sales filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, December 19, 2012 as ranked by dollar value.

Please note, however, that these are factual lists, not buy and sell recommendations. Dollar value is only one metric to assess the importance of an insider transaction, and, frankly, often not even the most important metric that determines if an insider transaction is significant.

In purchases, John C. Malone, Chairman of the Board of Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA), bought $56,418,656 worth of stock in the media conglomerate. Liberty Media has equity investments in Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI), Live Nation (NYSE:LYV), Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB), and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX). It owns TV channels like USA, QVC, Encore, Starz, and Discovery Channel. Malone serves as the CEO of Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ:DISCA). Elon Musk, the South African entrepreneur who founded SpaceX and co-founded PayPal (NASDAQ:EBAY), bought $15 million worth of stock in SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY), of which he is a director. SolarCity provides solar power technology and services for homes, businesses, and governments. The company held its initial public offering last Friday, December 14, and saw its stock price jump 47% to $11.79. Ted W. Love, M.D., a director of biopharmaceutical company Santarus (NASDAQ:SNTS), bought $2,012,800 worth of the company stock. Phillip Frost, M.D., CEO and chairman of pharmaceutical company Opko Health (NYSE:OPK), bought $163,822 worth of the company stock.

In sales, Bain Capital, the private equity and wealth management firm Mitt Romney co-founded, sold $541,073,216 worth of stock in Sensata Technologies (NYSE:ST). The company, known as Texas Instruments Sensors and Controls until 2006, is the world's leading supplier of sensors and controls across of a spectrum of markets and applications. SPO Advisory, a privately owned hedge fund sponsor, sold $117,630,000 worth of stock in Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR). The company specializes in outdoor advertising, like billboards, bulletins, and signs on benches and busses. Robert R. Bennett, who had served as CEO of Liberty Media and president of Discovery Holding Company, and was succeeded by his colleague on the purchase side today, sold $51,750,000 worth of Liberty Media stock.

At, we find new investment ideas just about every day using these and more intricate insider screens to determine where we should focus our subsequent fundamental and technical analysis. And while stocks don't (or shouldn't) move up or down based on insider activity alone, insiders tend to be good indicators of when real stock-moving events like earnings surprises, corporate actions, and new products may be in the offing.

Source: | Key to Insider Title and Trans Type Codes

Source: | Key to Insider Title and Trans Type Codes

Editor's note: Jonathan Moreland is the founder of Insider Insights and author of "Profit From Legal Insider Trading."
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