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Have Insiders Been Selling Woodside Petroleum Ltd (ASX:WPL) Shares?

Simply Wall St

It is not uncommon to see companies perform well in the years after insiders buy shares. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of examples of share prices declining precipitously after insiders have sold shares. So before you buy or sell Woodside Petroleum Ltd (ASX:WPL), you may well want to know whether insiders have been buying or selling.

Do Insider Transactions Matter?

It's quite normal to see company insiders, such as board members, trading in company stock, from time to time. However, such insiders must disclose their trading activities, and not trade on inside information.

Insider transactions are not the most important thing when it comes to long-term investing. But logic dictates you should pay some attention to whether insiders are buying or selling shares. As Peter Lynch said, 'insiders might sell their shares for any number of reasons, but they buy them for only one: they think the price will rise.'

View our latest analysis for Woodside Petroleum

The Last 12 Months Of Insider Transactions At Woodside Petroleum

In the last twelve months, the biggest single sale by an insider was when the CEO, MD & Executive Director, Peter Coleman, sold AU$1.1m worth of shares at a price of AU$37.09 per share. So what is clear is that an insider saw fit to sell at around the current price of AU$33.04. While insider selling is a negative, to us, it is more negative if the shares are sold at a lower price. Given that the sale took place at around current prices, it makes us a little cautious but is hardly a major concern. Peter Coleman was the only individual insider to sell shares in the last twelve months.

Happily, we note that in the last year insiders paid AU$595k for 16437 shares. But they sold 30000 for AU$1.1m. You can see a visual depiction of insider transactions (by individuals) over the last 12 months, below. By clicking on the graph below, you can see the precise details of each insider transaction!

ASX:WPL Recent Insider Trading, August 13th 2019

For those who like to find winning investments this free list of growing companies with recent insider purchasing, could be just the ticket.

Insider Ownership

Looking at the total insider shareholdings in a company can help to inform your view of whether they are well aligned with common shareholders. A high insider ownership often makes company leadership more mindful of shareholder interests. It appears that Woodside Petroleum insiders own 0.2% of the company, worth about AU$74m. This level of insider ownership is good but just short of being particularly stand-out. It certainly does suggest a reasonable degree of alignment.

What Might The Insider Transactions At Woodside Petroleum Tell Us?

An insider sold stock recently, but they haven't been buying. Zooming out, the longer term picture doesn't give us much comfort. On the plus side, Woodside Petroleum makes money, and is growing profits. Insider ownership isn't particularly high, so this analysis makes us cautious about the company. We'd think twice before buying! Of course, the future is what matters most. So if you are interested in Woodside Petroleum, you should check out this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

Of course Woodside Petroleum may not be the best stock to buy. So you may wish to see this free collection of high quality companies.

For the purposes of this article, insiders are those individuals who report their transactions to the relevant regulatory body. We currently account for open market transactions and private dispositions, but not derivative transactions.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.