Blue-chip chiefs keep hands in pockets after buying spree

Directors double down and cash out as internal stock purchases slow for second week

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 4:11am

Directors bought fewer of their own company shares for the second straight week in the last full week of April, according to filings to the stock exchange, after seven weeks of increased buying.

A total of 34 companies reported 163 purchases worth HK$172.8 million, down from the previous week's 40 companies reporting 171 insider purchases valued at HK$276.1 million.

Selling, on the other hand, rebounded, with 15 companies recording 58 disposals worth HK$128.5 million. The number of companies reporting disposals was up from 13 in the previous week, and their value was up from HK$62.8 million, but the number of transactions was slightly down from the previous week's 64 disposals.

Chairman Lee Shau-kee of blue chip Henderson Land Development led the buyers for the third straight week, picking up 1.38 million shares worth HK$75.75 million from April 16 to 18, at an average of HK$54.77 per share. The trades increased his holdings to 1.534 billion shares, or 63.54 per cent of Henderson's issued capital.

That brought his purchases since the last week of March to 20.6 million shares worth HK$1.097 billion. Lee's trades in the past five weeks accounted for 22 per cent of the blue chip's trading volume. The stock closed higher from Lee's average purchase price since March of HK$53.28 at HK$56.20 on Friday.

Another director who bought heavily last week was the president and chief executive of consumer products exporter Li & Fung, Bruce Rockowitz.

Rockowitz resumed buying after the blue chip's stock fell 20 per cent from his acquisition prices in August to September last year, taking 2 million shares from April 18 to 23 at an average of HK$10.02 each.

The trades increased his holdings to 98.77 million shares, or 1.18 per cent of Li & Fung's issued capital.

Rockowitz had previously acquired 4 million shares from August to September 2012 at an average of HK$12.48 per share and 4 million shares from September to October 2011 at an average of HK$12.39 each.

The blue chip closed higher than Rockowitz's purchase price on Friday, at HK$10.16.

Another high-level executive who resumed buying after a fall in the company's share price was the founder and chairman of sausage casing products manufacturer Shenguan, Zhou Yaxian, taking 700,000 shares on April 23 at an average of HK$3.82 each. The trades increased her holdings to 2.146 billion shares, or 64.58 per cent of the issued capital.

Zhou's purchases came after a 10 per cent drop in the share price since January from HK$4.22. She previously acquired 2.9 million shares from November 14 to December 31 last year at an average of HK$4.02 each, and 8 million shares from January to August last year at an average of HK$4.10 each.

The stock closed at HK$3.80 on Friday.

Meanwhile, property play Poly Property recorded the biggest insider sales in terms of value last week, with six of the company's 10 board members unloading a combined 11.55 million shares worth HK$58.97 million from April 17 to 19 at an average of HK$5.11 per share.

The sales, which accounted for 14 per cent of the stock's trading volume, came on the back of a 25 per cent drop in the share price since January from HK$6.77. Despite that decline, the counter is still up since October 2011 from HK$2.20.

Among the sellers was chairman and managing director Xue Ming, selling 2.65 million shares on April 17 at HK$5.06 each, which reduced his holdings by 73 per cent to 1 million shares, or 0.03 per cent of the company's issued capital.

The disposal was his first since his appointment as chairman in April 2010. A portion of the sales was made at a profit based on the 1 million shares he acquired in August 2011 at HK$4.49 each.

Despite the heavy insider sales, the stock closed higher than the directors' sale price on Friday, at HK$5.22.

Robert Halili is managing director of Asia Insider