3 Stocks Flashing Signs of Strong Insider Buys

Every investor wants an ‘in’, a hint that tells exactly what a stock is going to do and when. The kind of signal that cuts through the noise of the market and makes sense of the deluge of raw data that every company generates. Multiply that data by 10,000 publicly traded stocks and you’ll have an idea of ​​how daunting the markets can be.

It’s tempting to follow an expert: a Wall Street analyst or a trading guru. They all have an important contribution to make. But here we’ll take a look at some company insiders. These are names you probably haven’t heard since they have a lower profile. They are corporate officers, with good understanding of their own businesses and business niches.

Insiders know what their company faces, based on their positions of social responsibility – responsibility to directors and shareholders, for reaping profits and returns. That makes their trades a good place to look for solid purchases.

TipRanks’ Hot Insider Stocks tool provides investors with a range of ways to track insiders, and data filters that make it easy to parse search results. We’ve picked three stocks with recent informational purchases to show how the data works for you.

Nicolet Bank Shares (NCBS)

We start with Nicolet Bankshares, a small regional bank holding company in Wisconsin. The subsidiary, Nicolet National Bank, has 30 branches in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan and offers a full range of personal and business banking solutions ranging from checking accounts and savings to mortgages, wealth management and retirement services.

The company has seen healthy earnings and profits in the last 5 quarters, which continued in its latest quarterly statement. Nicolet reported 2Q21 EPS of $1.77 per share, based on net income of $18.2 million. Net income was up 34% year-over-year, with EPS gaining 38% – beating the consensus by more than 8%. Revenue also came in ahead of The Street’s forecast, up 13.8% from the same period a year ago to $55.75 million, an improvement from $19.62 million. The company ended the first half of the year with total assets of $4.6 billion, of which $792 million was cash or cash equivalents.

Management prides itself on Nicolet having the most active acquisition record among Wisconsin banks — and in the first half of 21, the company made two pertinent announcements. First, Nicolet reached a firm agreement in April to acquire Mackinac Financial, a regional bank with $1.5 billion in assets. The deal closes in 3Q21, pending shareholder approval; regulatory approval has already been obtained.

Second, Nicolet entered into an agreement to acquire County Bancorp, a major Wisconsin agricultural lender. County will also bring $1.5 billion in assets to the company, and the merger is expected to close in 4Q21. Both companies are now seeking shareholder and regulatory approval.

As for insiders, we see that the company’s CFO, Hubert Moore, and a board member, Robert Weyers, have both made informational purchases in recent days. Moore spent more than $510,000 buying 7,000 shares, while Weyers’s purchase was smaller, $253,000 for 3,500 shares.

Writing for Maxim, 5 star analyst Michael Diana considers the company’s acquisition activity to be essential.

“We believe NCBS is deserving of a premium for its record of making acquisitions, the most recent of which was announced last month…. Since 2016, NCBS has acquired Baylake Corp, First Menasha Bancshares and Choice Bancorp to become the leading independent bank in the demographically attractive areas of Green Bay and the Fox Valley. The recently announced acquisitions of MFNC [Mackinac] and ICBK [County] should, in our view, continue NCBS’ string of successful acquisitions,” Diana wrote.

Diana gives the stock a buy rating and a price target of $94, suggesting there is room for a 30% increase in the stock in the coming year. (To view Diana’s track record, click here)

This small-cap banking firm has picked up 3 recent Wall Street ratings – and they all agree it’s a stock to buy, making the consensus a unanimous Strong Buy. The shares are priced at $72.33 and their average price target of $89.33 implies upside potential of 23.5% over one year. (See NCBS stock analysis on TipRanks)

Glacier Bancorp (GBCI)

The second stock on our list is another bank holding company, this time the parent company of Montana-based Glacier Bank. The company has banking facilities in 8 states, including Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Arizona, Washington and Nevada. Glacier Bancorp is one of several regional mid-cap banking companies, and its subsidiary offers the usual range of banking services to retail and commercial customers, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online.

Glacier has more than 190 locations, total assets of $20.5 billion, deposits of $16.8 billion and loans of $11.2 billion. The company’s year-to-date net income is given as $158.4 million. Second quarter income was $76.2 million, up $14.2 million year-over-year, or 22%. EPS came in at 81 cents, up 21% yoy and surpassing the forecast of 73 cents by more than 10%. Excluding the government’s payroll protection program (PPP) activity during the coronavirus crisis, the company reported a 10% year-over-year increase in lending business, primarily in commercial lending, making a profit of $249 million in the quarter.

Like Nicolet above, Glacier is engaged in acquisition activities and announced a merger with Altabancorp during the quarter. This Utah-based company will put assets worth $3.52 billion on the table once the merger is approved by shareholders and regulatory authorities.

For insiders, the “informative purchase” here was made by Craig Langel, director and chairman of the board of directors at Glacier Bancorp. Langel spent $773,250 on 15,000 shares of GBCI.

Brandon King, who covers Glacier for Truist, writes, “We view GBCI as a preferred acquirer in a footprint with limited competition and attractive demographic trends. The company has a disciplined credit culture and a few years ago was able to solve problems that exceeded those of peers. In addition, the company has one of the best deposit bases in the country, which should provide more NIM support in a higher-rate environment. In our view, GBCI will likely continue to increase organic growth with digestible acquisitions given the strong currency.”

King rates GBCI as a buy and sets a price target of $60, implying a 17% gain over the next 12 months. (To view King’s track record, click here)

Overall, Glacier shares receive a moderate buy from the analyst consensus, based on 2 hold and 1 buy. The stock is priced at $51.18 and their average price target of $58 suggests an 11% increase from that level. (See GBCI stock analysis on TipRanks)

IMARA (IMRA)

Last but not least is IMARA, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in hemoglobinopathies research. Specifically, the company has a drug candidate in the pipeline for the treatment of sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. These are two blood disorders – both sets of related diseases – that cause anemia symptoms; Sickle cell disease is a genetic disorder that causes malformed red blood cells and can lead to serious quality of life problems and a shortened lifespan, while beta thalassemia is a hemoglobin disorder, also inherited, that reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. No set of diseases currently has a completely effective treatment.

IMARA’s lead drug candidate, IMR-687, is a selective and potent small molecule that inhibits PDE9. PDE9, in turn, plays a role in lowering cGMP levels in patients with blood disorders, with associated inflammation, decreased blood flow, and other symptoms. Blocking PDE9 has been linked to reactivation of fetal hemoglobin – resulting in a reduction in symptoms.

In June, IMARA reported final data from a Phase 2a clinical trial of IMR-687 in sickle cell disease, which showed a significantly lower annual rate of vaso-occlusive (blood flow-blocking) crises (VOCs) in patients. New patients starting the drug also showed a longer time to first VOC. IMR-687 was also well tolerated by patients both as monotherapy and in combination with hydroxyurea.

In insider trading, the most significant trade from an investor’s perspective was made in late July by board member Mark Chin. Chin bought 1,333 million shares for nearly $8 million. Chin’s stake in the company now totals over $13.5 million.

Leerink analyst Joseph Schwartz is optimistic about IMRA and takes the long-term view when assessing the company’s prospects.

“While IMRA stock has been under pressure this year, we believe encouraging Ph.2a VOC data should give stock a boost today ahead of Ph.2b interim data expected in 2H21… In anticipation of interim Ph.2b ARDENT and FORTE data in 2H21, we reiterate our OP review on IMRA,” wrote Schwartz.

The analyst added, “We currently estimate peak gross sales of ~$2.8 billion (2035E) and ~$290 million (2035E) for IMR-687 in SCD and -thalassemia, respectively. We consider clinical and regulatory risks in our probability of success (PoS) estimates, which range from 60%/40% in SCD (US/EU) to 40%/20% in thalassemia (US/EU).”

To that end, Schwartz gives IMRA stock a price target of $42, indicating genuine confidence and impressive upside potential of 661% from the current share price. (To view Schwartz’s track record, click here)

Overall, IMRA has received two recent buy recommendations from the analysts, for an average buy consensus valuation. (See IMRA stock analysis on TipRanks)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the recommended analysts only. The content is for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.