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March 28, 2020, 9:36 a.m. EDT

These are the 20 stocks corporate insiders have been buying most amid the coronavirus-induced market selloff

Company executives have been heavily buying all the areas that will supposedly get hit the hardest by coronavirus and COVID-19

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By Michael Brush, MarketWatch

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So in the end, it’s most likely going to turn out that insiders buying the March pullback were making smart moves, even if many of them were early — often the case with insiders.

Consider Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway /zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite BRK.A +0.05%   /zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite BRK.B +0.03% . It loaded up on Delta Air Lines /zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite DAL 0.00% with a $45 million purchase around $46-$47 early in the crisis, only to see the stock drop to $20.

Richard Kinder, who was an early pioneer in energy infrastructure development, purchased $11.8 million worth of shares of his Kinder Morgan /zigman2/quotes/208455654/composite KMI -1.02%  infrastructure company above $20, only to see it fall to $9.42. He bought another $13.6 million worth at prices down to $15.50 in the subsequent weakness.

Carl Icahn is definitely one of the smarter investors around. His shop bought $84.8 million worth Hertz Global Holdings /zigman2/quotes/200655672/composite HTZ +8.03% at $7-$8 in the March pullback only to see it move to $3.18.

But even these early buys will probably work out. These stocks are already putting in nice moves off their lows. Delta Air Lines and Kinder Morgan this week were up at least 35% from their lows. Hertz was up over 160% from its March bottom to trade in the mid-$8 range, meaning Icahn’s most recent purchases are already profitable. Icahn’s experience with Hertz reinforces the takeaway that insiders are often early, but also often right.

Read: You can be ‘practically stealing’ quality stocks now, according to Jefferies

Here’s a quick tour of the “worst” sectors that insiders are buying — providing a contrarian signal which suggests that you might want to get exposure to these groups, too.

Airlines

Planes emptied out early in the crisis. Who wanted to be a tube full of strangers for hours, even if the air is well filtered? Then airlines threw in the towel and shut down routes extensively to control costs. As their shares tanked, airline sector insiders bought them. Besides the Berkshire Hathaway purchase of Delta Air Lines (Buffett’s shop has to report as an “insider” because it owns a lot of stock), insiders were buying SkyWest /zigman2/quotes/205631497/composite SKYW -1.15% and Spirit Airlines /zigman2/quotes/205782179/composite SAVE -0.36% . They were also buying stealth airline plays like TransDigm Group /zigman2/quotes/203902625/composite TDG +1.77% , which sells parts used in the sector.

Financials

In the weak economy and low interest-rate environment that an extended lockdown would create, banks and market-oriented financial companies wouldn’t stand a chance, said the bear thesis. So investors dumped them. In the mayhem, insiders were picking up the discounted stock. They were significant buyers at Wells Fargo /zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite WFC +0.37% ($5.5 million worth), PNC Financial Services /zigman2/quotes/203416310/composite PNC +0.43%  ($5 million worth) and Raymond James Financial /zigman2/quotes/201697413/composite RJF +1.43% ($1.5 million worth), for example.

Housing sector

As job losses mount in a shutdown economy, no one would be able to afford to take advantage of the low interest rates to buy a home. Sell the sector, according to this investor meme. Insiders are readily taking the other side of that trade, buying shares of Toll Brothers /zigman2/quotes/201912487/composite TOL +5.13% , Home Depot /zigman2/quotes/208081807/composite HD +0.74% , Lowe’s Companies /zigman2/quotes/205563664/composite LOW +0.54% , and Amerco, the parent company of U-Haul. among others /zigman2/quotes/204659063/composite UHAL +2.05% .

Public gathering place stocks

No one will go within 6 feet of each other for months if not longer. So forget about any businesses that involve congregating large numbers of people. Investors believing this thesis have been dumping restaurant, amusement park, gym and gaming stocks.

Insiders love the other side of that trade. I’ve pointed out how they’ve been buying Six Flags Entertainment /zigman2/quotes/208050417/composite SIX +2.41%  and Cedar Fair /zigman2/quotes/205497488/composite FUN -0.86%  in this column. But they’ve also been purchasing Churchill Downs /zigman2/quotes/205054336/composite CHDN +2.93% even with the Kentucky Derby postponed from the first Saturday in May to Sept. 5 this year.

Energy

The energy sector has problems of its own, given how Russia and Saudi Arabia have parted ways on price fixing. Now it’s a race to the bottom for oil prices /zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed CL00 -0.12% , as they battle for market share. But energy stocks are also unattractive in a recession. Investors worrying that we will see a long drawn-out economic pullback have really dumped energy stocks.

Insiders have been happy to snap them up. They’ve been buying Cheniere Energy /zigman2/quotes/206202121/composite LNG -0.08% , Hess /zigman2/quotes/203832174/composite HES +1.99% , Halliburton /zigman2/quotes/210488727/composite HAL +0.48%  and Murphy Oil /zigman2/quotes/209008919/composite MUR +2.32% , among others. As for the shootout between Russia and Saudi Arabia, that battle is weighing on their national budgets so much that they are likely to resolve their differences before too long.

At the time of publication, Michael Brush had no positions in any stocks mentioned in this column. Brush has suggested DAL, KMI, SKYW, TDG, WF, PNC, RJF, HD, LOW, SIX, FUN and LNG in his stock newsletter Brush Up on Stocks. Brush is a Manhattan-based financial writer who has covered business for the New York Times and The Economist Group, and he attended Columbia Business School.

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$ 271,770
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July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
45.42
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$440.14 billion
Rev. per Employee
$637,113
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/zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 181.20
+0.05 +0.03%
Volume: 5.56M
July 8, 2020 4:02p
P/E Ratio
45.37
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$440.14 billion
Rev. per Employee
$637,113
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/zigman2/quotes/200327741/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 27.01
0.00 0.00%
Volume: 27.21M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
5.02
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$17.23 billion
Rev. per Employee
$499,337
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/zigman2/quotes/208455654/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 14.52
-0.15 -1.02%
Volume: 11.05M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
24.97
Dividend Yield
7.23%
Market Cap
$33.18 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.30M
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/zigman2/quotes/200655672/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 1.48
+0.11 +8.03%
Volume: 18.82M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$194.94 million
Rev. per Employee
$250,105
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/zigman2/quotes/205631497/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 30.03
-0.35 -1.15%
Volume: 497,897
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
5.44
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$1.52 billion
Rev. per Employee
$202,621
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/zigman2/quotes/205782179/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 16.71
-0.06 -0.36%
Volume: 14.59M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
4.56
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$1.49 billion
Rev. per Employee
$431,115
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203902625/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 426.90
+7.41 +1.77%
Volume: 617,203
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
30.95
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$22.68 billion
Rev. per Employee
$391,730
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 24.55
+0.09 +0.37%
Volume: 38.41M
July 8, 2020 4:02p
P/E Ratio
8.67
Dividend Yield
8.31%
Market Cap
$100.29 billion
Rev. per Employee
$392,114
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203416310/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 100.14
+0.43 +0.43%
Volume: 2.91M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
9.33
Dividend Yield
4.59%
Market Cap
$42.30 billion
Rev. per Employee
$367,770
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201697413/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 67.98
+0.96 +1.43%
Volume: 531,916
July 8, 2020 4:03p
P/E Ratio
10.08
Dividend Yield
2.18%
Market Cap
$9.18 billion
Rev. per Employee
$412,787
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/201912487/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 33.81
+1.65 +5.13%
Volume: 2.03M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
9.93
Dividend Yield
1.30%
Market Cap
$4.04 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.50M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208081807/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 249.17
+1.82 +0.74%
Volume: 2.29M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
24.76
Dividend Yield
2.41%
Market Cap
$266.03 billion
Rev. per Employee
$261,993
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205563664/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 135.75
+0.73 +0.54%
Volume: 2.75M
July 8, 2020 4:02p
P/E Ratio
22.91
Dividend Yield
1.62%
Market Cap
$101.94 billion
Rev. per Employee
$230,029
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/204659063/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 299.02
+6.01 +2.05%
Volume: 49,994
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
13.26
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$5.75 billion
Rev. per Employee
$131,062
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208050417/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 19.51
+0.46 +2.41%
Volume: 2.20M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
10.16
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$1.61 billion
Rev. per Employee
$609,878
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205497488/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 27.61
-0.24 -0.86%
Volume: 1.05M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
41.21
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$1.58 billion
Rev. per Employee
$28,510
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205054336/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 128.64
+3.66 +2.93%
Volume: 320,553
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
51.39
Dividend Yield
0.45%
Market Cap
$4.93 billion
Rev. per Employee
$246,098
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed
US : U.S.: Nymex
$ 40.85
-0.05 -0.12%
Volume: 13,512
July 9, 2020 1:19a
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/zigman2/quotes/206202121/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE American
$ 50.51
-0.04 -0.08%
Volume: 2.53M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
18.72
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$12.74 billion
Rev. per Employee
$5.73M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/203832174/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 49.32
+0.96 +1.99%
Volume: 1.94M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
2.03%
Market Cap
$14.85 billion
Rev. per Employee
$3.59M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/210488727/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 12.47
+0.06 +0.48%
Volume: 13.12M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
1.44%
Market Cap
$10.89 billion
Rev. per Employee
$399,917
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/209008919/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 13.22
+0.30 +2.32%
Volume: 2.45M
July 8, 2020 4:00p
P/E Ratio
3.20
Dividend Yield
3.78%
Market Cap
$1.98 billion
Rev. per Employee
$2.33M
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Michael Brush is a Manhattan-based financial writer who publishes the stock newsletter Brush Up on Stocks. Brush has covered business for the New York Times and The Economist group. He attended Columbia Business School in the Knight-Bagehot program.

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