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In our weekly series, James Norris looks at directors buying and selling shares in their own companies over the last week.

  • Grafton Group CEO and CFO sell awarded shares
  • Drax Group directors sell as shares surge
  • Howden Joinery Group CEO sells £850k of shares
  • Directors building position in Jersey Oil & Gas
  • CEO buys 100k shares in Reach

Grafton Group (LON: GFTU) chief executive Gavin Slark and chief financial officer David Arnold have sold significant amounts of stock. Slark sold 72,841 shares at 933p each, worth £679,444, while Arnold sold 43,652 shares at the same price for £407,175. Both transactions were for tax purposes, on being granted free stock. The Dublin-based building materials distributor and DIY retailer last month posted revenue growth of 15% year-on- year and an 85% jump in profits, and announced a £100m share buyback programme, with the aim of completing by year end. Shares in the company have declined steadily since August last year, and closed for trading yesterday at 873.30p, a return of -29.17% YTD and -30.36% over 12 months.

Drax Group (LON: DRX) chief executive Will Gardiner has sold 30,000 shares at 808p, for £242,550. On 29 March, Gardiner offloaded another 125,711 shares at 770p for £968,693 and on 22 December a further 16,667 shares for £99,168. Gardiner now has a total shareholding of 693,375 shares. On 29 March, chief financial officer Andy Skelton also sold 69,947 shares for £538,991. Drax last month said it its expecting full-year earnings to be near the top end of analysts’ expectations. At close of trading yesterday, shares in the electricity generation group were worth 775.0p, just off the top of their 52-week range, a return of 28.10% YTD and 91.83% over 12 months.

Howden Joinery Group (LON: HWDN) chief executive Andrew Livingston sold 119,304 shares at 713p each, worth £851,033. The London-based joinery group last month announced a 22% increase in earnings year-on-year, reflecting increased prices and volume. In February, the company announced a £250m share buyback programme. Shares in the company have declined steadily since September last year, and closed yesterday at 662.6p, a return of -26.48% YTD and -17.83% over 12 months.

Jersey Oil & Gas (LON: JOG) chief executive Andrew Benitz, non-executive director Marcus Stanton and chairman Leslie Thomas have all been building their position in the company. Last Thursday, Benitez bought 13,284 shares at 2.71p each for £35,999; Stanton bought 2,000 at 2.64p each for £5,280; and Thomas bought 8,000 shares at 2.67p for £21,400. Against a backdrop of a strengthening oil price, Jersey Oil & Gas has registered strong interest from partners to develop its Greater Buchan Area asset in the North Sea, which WH Ireland expects to conclude successfully: “GBA is a low-risk, large-scale resource that will attract capital.” Shares closed yesterday at 252.5p, a return of 83.6% YTD and 57.2% over 12 months.

Reach (LON: RCH) chief executive Jim Mullen bought 80,527 shares at 123p each for a total of £99,006. He bought the shares in the UK newspaper group on 6 May, the day after their value had slumped almost 20%. His purchase perhaps indicates his belief that the price would rally, despite the quarterly trading update, published 5 May, stating the company had “experienced reduced advertiser demand and lower average yields”. With talk of “challenging trading conditions”, the outlook is hardly promising for investors. Shares closed for trading yesterday at 116.80p, a return of -58.65% YTD and -52.13% over 12 months.

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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

James Norris

James Norris

James is a highly experienced writer and editor, gained from more than 20 years in the financial services industry, in particular wealth management and asset management.

He initially worked as a financial journalist for a number of leading media brands, including the FT Group, Financial News, Euromoney and Incisive Media, covering most aspects of the asset management industry. More recently, James switched to work as an in-house content specialist for fund management and wealth management groups, including JP Morgan Asset Management, Quilter Cheviot Investment Management, AXA Investment Managers and Invesco Perpetual.

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