Sellers keep their powder dry

BUYING of smaller exploration stocks highlighted directors' trades but overall activity was well down on the previous week.

BUYING of smaller exploration stocks highlighted directors' trades but overall activity was well down on the previous week.

The scorecard registered $2.9 million to $3.7 million in favour of sellers, compared previously with $2.9 million to $6.7 million in favour of sellers.

Activity in industrial stocks was almost non-existent, although one exception was in Bradken, which recently dropped an earnings downgrade on punters.

On the day of the warning, non-executive director Peter Richards topped up his stake, paying $7.80 a share a discount of nearly 8 per cent on the previous day's close.

But the market became more unimpressed as this week rolled on the shares fell as low as $7.22 on Thursday before closing at $7.38 yesterday.

Starpharma Holdings' scrip has been climbing since October and the company told the exchange this week it knew of no reason why its shares had recently firmed.

Former CSL employee Peter Turvey, who joined the Starpharma board last month, opened his account in recent days with the acquisition of scrip at about $1.70, as did Zita Peach, another former CSL staffer.

One director who presumably is enjoying the increase in the value of the company whose main product is a vaginal microbicide to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections is chairman Peter Bartels, who paid $1.19 a share four months ago.

Elsewhere, a clutch of companies offered explanations about trading in closed periods.

Jaginder Pasricha sold most of his shares in takeover target Thakral Holdings.

Thakral said he had sold his shares during a closed period but in the light of the circumstances, including Mr Pasricha's resignation from the board, no further action would be taken.

Kenneth Pickering bought 5000 shares at $3.25 apiece in Panaust on the second day after a quarterly report was released. If he had bought them on the third day, it would have been outside the closed period.

"Mr Pickering's focus was to complete the acquisition of shares prior to the board meeting to meet the expectation that he holds shares in the company and prior to embarking on a substantive induction tour with the company in Asia.

"He gave the instruction to his broker to initiate the trade when he was in Canada in a different time zone and, in the course of this process, unintentionally breached the company's securities trading policy."

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