(Bloomberg) -- More bank insiders are buying shares in their own companies, a vote of confidence in the industry after a crisis sparked by the collapse of four regional lenders earlier this year.
The number of buyers has already jumped to 778 in the second quarter through May 26 from 524 in the first three months of the year, according to research firm VerityData, which said the surge is being driven by small and midsize banks. More purchasers stepped up even as share prices sank to multiyear lows in early May.
“Insiders in this group are expressing a strong belief that the regional-banking system as a whole is sound, that there’s not a danger of a wide-scale collapse,” Ben Silverman, director of research at VerityData, said in an interview. “This signifies long-term confidence in these banks’ ability to weather whatever near-term storm there might be.”
Insiders aggressively bought shares of their own companies following the collapse of regional banks including SVB Financial Group’s Silicon Valley Bank in March, pausing only when rules barring insider trading near the release of quarterly results kicked in at the end of the quarter. Buying steadily increased again when the trading window reopened, with May levels exceeding March, according to the data.
The second quarter has so far been the most active period for insider buying in the industry since the first three months of 2020, when stock prices plummeted at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the report.
“This is the type of insider signaling you want to see in a sector when it goes down,” Silverman said. “As an investor, if you feel that these are good banks that will be here for the long run, then it’s a buying opportunity.”
Another measure of insider sentiment is the buyers-to-sellers ratio, which compares unique insider buying to unique insider selling. The average quarterly ratio for banks since 2011 has been 1.8 to 1, according to the report. So far in the second quarter, the ratio is at a record high of 14.7 to 1.
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