Corporate insiders unloaded shares of BlackBerry Ltd. amid a frenzy of buying that turned it one of the hottest stocks of the new year.
BlackBerry shares rallied about 5 per cent on Friday to extend a seven-day advance to 80 per cent, its biggest such percentage increase since February 2000. Thus far this year, the stock has more than doubled, making it the top performer in the S&P/Toronto Stock Exchange Composite Index. The shares closed at their highest price since March 2018 on Thursday.
At least two BlackBerry executives sold shares amid the advance, according to filings with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. Chief Marketing Officer Mark Wilson on Jan. 20 sold more than US$990,000 of BlackBerry stock, reducing his directly owned shares by nearly 60 per cent. Chief Financial Officer Steve Rai also sold nearly US$430,000 of the stock on the same day, liquidating all directly owned shares.
“The executives traded during an open trading window as permitted under company policy, and all of our executives continue to have strong equity-based incentives through our long-term equity program,” BlackBerry said in a statement to Bloomberg.
The insider sales are not a sign that the stock will collapse, according to Jonathan Moreland, an analyst at Insiderinsights.com.
“What it suggests is that these very knowledgeable corporate insiders think this is a pretty good price,” he said. “So if you’re a holder, you might consider lightening up a bit.”
Much of the stock’s recent advance came after it settled a dispute with Facebook over patent royalties.
The terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but “may not yield a royalty payment as significant as BlackBerry had originally hoped,” wrote John Butler, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. He speculated that the final accord may possibly “take the form of a cross-licensing agreement, with minimal royalties exchanging hands.”
Earlier this month, the Globe and Mail reported that BlackBerry had sold 90 patents to China’s Huawei. In December, the company signed an agreement with Amazon Web Services for an “Intelligent Vehicle Data Platform.”