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Sell-Side Analyst Heterogeneity and Insider Trading

ISI: Sell-Side Analyst Heterogeneity and Insider Trading

FRANCISCO MARCET O.

2020 - Forthcoming - Journal of Corporate Finance

Abstract

This study explores insider trading patterns under different earnings surprises. After controlling for stock market liquidity and earnings announcements returns, we show that insiders sell more aggressively depending on the heterogeneity of analysts whose EPS forecasts are met or beaten to camouflage their trades. Specifically, insiders sell more shares of their company sooner after the publication of earnings when top analysts' forecasts are met or beaten. Consistent with the informed trading literature, insiders strategically select these moments because the stock price impact is low and the legal scrutiny of their trades is minimal. To support this result, we employ an exogenous drop in firms' analyst coverage due to closure or merger of brokerage houses. Furthermore, in line with the camouflage incentives, by selling after top analysts' forecasts are met or beaten, stock prices adjust slowly to insider trades. Finally, we show that the incentives of insiders to hide their trades are concentrated in opportunistic insiders and members of the top management team, who are more likely to bear the costs of selling shares after positive news.

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