Paul Tharp of the New York Post reports today that in recent months corporate insiders have been doing much more selling than buying, a potentially ominous sign for an already fragile economic recovery. The column in the Post cites data from “The Washington Service” a firm that tracks data recorded from legal insider trading, showing that industry leaders have been dumping their corporate stock holdings at a fast pace this year. Leading the way in insider cash-outs seems to be the tech sector, (NYSE:XLK) with top ranking officials such as Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bill Gates offloading sizable portions of their ownership.
According to a June SEC filing, Gates sold $1.06 billion worth of his Microsoft holdings, and plans to offload the majority of his remaining $15 billion worth incrementally over the coming years. Also dumping loads of shares in recent months were Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who sold $331 and $285.4 million in shares respectively last quarter. The move should not be viewed as cause for concern among Google enthusiasts, as both still own over $14 billion worth of company stock.
Outside the tech sector, media tycoon John Malone banked $83.5 million from his sale of shares in Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA), while in finance Glenn Hut made $267.7 million dumping holdings of Silverlake Financial.
Not all corporate big-wigs were sellers in the first half of 2011, with Dell’s (NASDAQ:DELL) own Michael Dell buying over $150 million new shares of his company, which have since netted him a $32.million dollar gain.