Wall Street chatter about the outlook for Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. is heating up, sparked by the recent sale of millions of dollars of HOG stock by company insiders.
Investors typically get spooked when a company's insiders start selling their stock shares in droves. The natural fear is that the insiders know something about the outlook of the company, and if they are cashing in their chips, they must know that the stock has peaked for the foreseeable future and will soon decline.
However, sometimes insiders sell their stock for personal reasons that have nothing to do with their perceptions about the future of the firm. And sometimes the speculators are just plain wrong.
Regardless, speculators took note when company insiders Tonit Calaway, Joanne Bischmann, John Baker, John Olin and Matthew Levatich, all Harley corporate officers, sold a combined $2.6 million in Harley stock shares on April 27.
On May 1, Harley vice president Paul Jones, directors Sara Levinson and Barry Allen and chief accounting officer Mark Kornetzke sold a combined $819,552 in Harley stock.
That's more than $3.4 million in Harley stock being sold by company insiders in less than a week.
Harley chief executive officer Keith Wandell added fuel to the speculation when he sold $2.6 million of his Harley stock on May 6. Wandell also exercised an option on $1.1 million in Harley stock on May 6.
Keep in mind, Harley's stock increased from $34 to a 52-week high of more than $54 per share over the past six months. After the recent speculation over the sales by the insiders, Harley's stock value dropped to about $47 per share.
So, is Harley's sweet ride over?
Maripat Blankenheim, Harley's director of external communications, pooh-poohed such speculation.
"Since the beginning of the year, Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell has sold 31,907 shares to cover the tax withholding on the vesting of 77,066 shares of restricted stock. He continues to hold these vested restricted shares, net o…Read more...