(Bloomberg) – Airline executives and executives sold $ 49.9 million in shares in February, the most in three years as industry shares sent a record pattern driven by growing vaccination efforts.
The top individual salespeople were at Allegiant Travel Co. and Southwest Airlines Co., two leisure-focused carriers that are among analysts’ choice to take advantage of a rebound in holiday travel when the coronavirus pandemic eases. Managers from Delta Air Lines Inc. and Mesa Air Group Inc. also sold significant holdings, according to data from InsiderInsights.com, which analyzes such transactions.
Insider sales rose as investors bet that vaccine campaigns would gain steam and improve the prospects for a travel leap. Airlines were hammered last year by an unprecedented drop in demand for air travel. Continued equity gains are far from guaranteed this year, as the industry’s recovery remains shrouded in uncertainty, and the decline in lucrative corporate and international travel is expected to continue.
The rise in stock sales in February came after no airlines had sold shares the previous month. An index of nine US airlines jumped 30% in February, the most recorded, led by a 45% advance for SkyWest Inc. Through Thursday, the stock gauge was overall around 140% since reaching a seven-year low in May 2020.
As for emphasizing the uncertainty, however, the index fell as much as 8.3% during Friday’s trading session before the mating losses closed with a fall of only 0.8%.
Major airlines lowered jobs and cut executive pay due to the crisis, while Congress introduced compensation limits in return for tens of thousands of dollars in support.
Bloomberg News investigated insider trading for the 11 largest listed U.S. airlines. Data exclude ril 2020, as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. dumped its large stakes in the four largest U.S. airlines.
Last month, Allegiant Chief Executive Officer Maury Gallagher Jr. the industry’s bestseller, issuing 101,000 shares worth $ 21.5 million in 13 transactions. Last year, he sold shares worth $ 67.9 million. Gallagher still owns more than 13% of the outstanding shares of Las Vegas-based Allegiant, which he co-founded in 1997.
The company’s CEO and CFO also sold holdings of more than $ 1 million iece. Allegiant declined to comment on leaders’ personal decisions to sell shares, spokeswoman Hilarie Gray said. Transactions continued this month as incumbent President John Redmond sold $ 6.1 million worth of shares.
Southwest’s insider sales accounted for 19% of the total number of February for airlines. President Tom Nealon raised $ 2.98 million, while Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven raised $ 1.82 million and Chief Financial Officer Tammy Romo raised $ 1.74 million. Limited stock units paid to executives earning in February carry “significant” taxes not fully covered by shares held for that purpose, Southwest said with respect to last month’s sale.
Delta President Glen Hauenstein sold $ 2.63 million, while Mesa Air President Michael Lotz threw $ 1.79 million. Delta declined to comment.
“Our window is rarely open and we have accumulated shares for a long time and took the opportunity to spread the stock,” said Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein, who also sold nearly $ 915,000 in shares last month.
Managers and Directors of American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. sold no shares according to available data.
(Updating Allegiant President’s Sales This Month in Ninth Section)
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