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 user 2004-01-10 at 10:42:00 am Views: 89
  • #4531

    Microsoft, Dell CEOs lead insider share sellers

    NEW YORK, Jan 6 (Reuters) – The Chiefs of technology heavyweights Microsoft Corp. (NasdaqNM: MSFTNews) and Dell Inc. (NasdaqNM: DELLNews) cashed in $2.7 billion worth of their own companies’ shares between them last year, as technology stocks soared, making them the leading corporate insider stock sellers in 2003.

    The huge sales helped push the total of insider stock disposals to $29 billion for 2003, a 40 percent jump from $21 billion in 2002, according to a regular survey published by research firm Thomson Financial.

    A high level of insider stock sales often presages a dip in stock prices, according to many analysts, but the stock markets’ strong run-up since March last year has so far defied that theory.

    Microsoft Chief Executive Steven Ballmer sold $1.5 billion of his company’s stock in 2003, while Dell chief Michael Dell ( News) sold $1.2 billion worth, according to Thomson Financial.

    Microsoft shares rose 6 percent last year, and Dell shares rose 29 percent, but both lagged the Nasdaq’s overall 50 percent rise over 2003, as the technology sector returned to favor.

    For all of 2003, U.S. corporate insiders bought only $1.1 billion of their own companies’ shares, the lowest annual level of buying since 1995, according to Thomson Financial.

    For the year, insiders sold nearly $26 worth of their own companies’ stock for every dollar they bought, the highest annual reading in Thomson Financial’s records.

    For December, that ratio stood at $28, down from $37 in November, but still above the $20 level which Lon Gerber, Thomson Financial’s director of insider research, reckons is “bearish”, indicating that stock prices will likely fall over the following six months.