When the country's CEOs and billionaires start to head to the exits a little bit quicker than usual at the tail end of a 13 year bull market, it may be time to start paying attention.
That's what we found noteworthy about a recent Bloomberg piece, which noted that stock sales by some of the world's richest shareholders are "reaping a windfall", thanks to our current inflated equity markets, "to the tune of trillions".
Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and Google co-founder Sergey Brin are just two of the well known names that have been offloading stock. They are joined by names like Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison.
We have covered Bezos' recent stock sales in this article. He has sold $6.7 billion in Amazon shares this year. Bezos still owns more than 10% of Amazon and remains the world's richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire's Index. His worth comes in at about $191.3 billion. Bezos has hastened his stock sales over the last couple of years: he sold about $4.1 billion in stock last February and sold more than $3 billion in stock last November.
Larry Ellison sold 7 million Oracle shares over the past week, netting him $552.3 million. Mark Zuckerberg and his charitable foundation have accelerated sales of stock since last fall. They have cumulatively dumped $1.87 billion in stock since last November.
But, in sum, public company insiders have sold shares worth $24.4 billion this year through the first week of May, the report noted. About half of these sales have come through trading plans. The number is almost at a par with the $30 billion insiders sold in the second half of 2020.
In addition to frothy valuations, Joe Biden's incoming tax hikes may have also propelled some of the ultra-rich to rethink holding on to their stock, the report speculates.
Thorne Perkin, president of Papamarkou Wellner Asset Management, said the sales could help the insiders diversify: “From a portfolio-management perspective, it makes sense to spread it around.”