easyJet shares: directors are buying. Should I buy too?

Edward Sheldon, CFA
·3-min read
Businessmen teamwork brainstorming meeting.
Businessmen teamwork brainstorming meeting.

One thing I always keep an eye on as part of my investment research is insider buying. Corporate executives and directors – who typically have an information advantage over the rest of us – only buy company stock for one reason… they expect it to rise.

Recently, insiders at easyJet (LSE: EZJ) have been buying shares. This suggests they expect easyJet’s share price to keep climbing. Should I buy EZJ stock too? Let’s take a look at some recent developments.

easyJet shares: director dealings

Regulatory filings show that since 17 November, three insiders at easyJet purchased shares.

On 17 November, both independent non-executive director David Robbie and group general counsel & company secretary Maaike de Bie purchased shares. The former bought 10,000 shares at a price of £7.56, while the latter bought 15,498 shares at an average price of £7.75. Then, on 19 November, independent director Nick Leeder purchased 1,346 shares at a price of £7.53. Combined, these directors spent about £206k on easyJet shares.

Insiders think EZJ is undervalued

I see this cluster of purchases as encouraging. It indicates that there’s a consensus of opinion that the stock is undervalued right now.

I also think it’s interesting that the group general counsel bought a large number of shares. Generally speaking, general counsels tend to be more risk averse and cautious than other insiders.

That said, I’d like to see a large purchase from a top-level insider such as the CEO, CFO, or chairman. These insiders tend to have access to the most information on their companies and academic research has shown that they tend to be most skilled at predicting future stock price gains.

The last time CEO Johan Lundgren purchased easyJet shares was in May 2019. In other words, he hasn’t purchased any shares throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a similar story for CFO Andrew Findlay. He also last purchased stock in 2019. I see the lack of recent buying from the CEO and CFO as a sign that there could be challenges ahead for easyJet.

Huge losses

Aside from the lack of buying from top-level insiders, there are other things that concern me about easyJet shares right now.

One is that the company is forecast to post huge losses this year and next. City analysts currently expect net losses of £780m and £209m for FY2020 and FY2021 respectively. It’s worth pointing out that last week, rival Norwegian Air filed for bankruptcy protection.

Meanwhile, analysts continue to downgrade their earnings estimates for this year and next. Over the last month, the consensus earnings per share (EPS) forecast for this financial year has fallen from near -30p to -47p. Earnings downgrades like this can put negative pressure on a company’s share price.

On top of this, industry experts believe the airline industry won’t get back to normal until at least 2024, despite the recent vaccine news.

Putting this all together, I think easyJet shares are best left alone right now. All things considered, I think there are safer growth stocks to buy at the moment.

The post easyJet shares: directors are buying. Should I buy too? appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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Edward Sheldon has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Motley Fool UK 2020