By Paul Mladjenovic

Insider buying is usually an unambiguous signal about how an insider feels about his company. After all, the primary reason that all investors buy stock is that they expect it to do well. If one insider is buying stock, that’s generally not a monumental event. But if several or more insiders are buying, those purchases should certainly catch your attention.

Insider buying is generally a positive omen and beneficial for the stock’s price. Also, when insiders buy stock, less stock is available to the public. If the investing public meets this decreased supply with increased demand, the stock price rises. Keep these factors in mind when analyzing insider buying:

Identify who’s buying the stock. The CEO is buying 5,000 shares. Is that reason enough for you to jump in? Maybe. After all, the CEO certainly knows how well the company is doing. But what if that CEO is just starting her new position? What if before this purchase she had no stock in the company at all? Maybe the stock is part of her employment package.

The fact that a new company executive is making her first stock purchase isn’t as strong a signal urging you to buy as the fact that a long-time CEO is doubling her holdings. Also, if large numbers of insiders are buying, that sends a stronger signal than if a single insider is buying.

See how much is being bought. In the preceding example, the CEO bought 5,000 shares, which is a lot of stock no matter how you count it. But is it enough for you to base an investment decision on? Maybe, but a closer look may reveal more. If she already owned 1 million shares at the time of the purchase, then buying 5,000 additional shares wouldn’t be such an exciting indicator of a pending stock rise. In this case, 5,000 shares is a small incremental move that doesn’t offer much to get excited about.

However, what if this particular insider has owned only 5,000 shares for the past three years and is now buying 1 million shares? Now that should arouse your interest! Usually, a massive purchase tells you that particular insider has strong feelings about the company’s prospects and that she’s making a huge increase in her share of stock ownership. Still, a purchase of 1 million shares by the CEO isn’t as strong a signal as ten insiders buying 100,000 shares each. Again, if only one person is buying, that may or may not be a strong indication of an impending rise. However, if lots of people are buying, consider it a fantastic indication.

An insider purchase of any kind is a positive sign, but it’s always more significant when a greater number of insiders are making purchases. “The more the merrier!” is a good rule for judging insider buying. All these individuals have their own, unique perspectives on the company and its prospects. Mass buying indicates mass optimism for the company’s future.

If the treasurer, the president, the vice president of sales, and several other key players are putting their wealth on the line and investing it in a company they know intimately, that’s a good sign for your stock investment as well.

Notice the timing of the purchase. The timing of insider stock purchases is important as well. If someone tells you that five insiders bought stock at various points last year, you may say, “Hmm.” But if that person tells you that all five people bought substantial chunks of stock at the same time and right before earnings season, that should make you say, “HMMMMM!”