The January Effect and insider trading. Smart money is buying these oversold stocks into year end.


The January Effect and insider trading anomaly can combine for unusually profitable opportunities. As year-end approaches, it’s a great time to scan the universe of equities for oversold, cheap stocks being accumulated by insiders.

The January Effect refers to the tendency for stock prices — especially small cap stocks — to appreciate more in January than in any other month.

Insider trading — particularly insider buying — often precedes unusual moves in stocks. Officers, directors and large shareholders often buy their own company’s stock when it is depressed relative to its “true” value. Insiders often have insights about business developments, industry conditions, etc., which they believe will result in an increase in the true underlying value of the company.

The January Effect and the insider trading anomaly often pack a strong one-two punch for investors buying late in the year. In addition, other stock market anomalies often overlap at year-end, contributing to arguably the best time of the year to be longs stocks.

At year end, stock market anomalies often overlap, offering unusually good opportunities for investors.

In financial markets, anomalies refer to situations when a security or group of securities performs contrary to the idea of efficient markets, where security prices are said to reflect all available information at any point in time. Anomalies represent enduring strategies for profiting in the stock market.

There has been debate over the years about why the January Effect happens or even if it really happens. Nonetheless, the anomaly is typically attributed to year-end tax-loss selling. “Window dressing” — whereby professional investors sell losers and buy recent winners late in the year — may also play a role.

The January Effect has also been found to be mostly a small cap stock phenomenon. In fact, a 1983 study by Don Keim confirmed the anomaly’s existence, but found it’s mostly limited to small-cap, low-priced stocks. The study found that half of the Small-Cap Effect (tendency of small stocks to outperform large) could be attributed to January returns alone.

So, late in the year, investors can take advantage of at least three anomalies: The January Effect, the Insider Trading anomaly and the Small Cap Anomaly.

But it doesn’t stop there. Abnormal selling at year end by some investors offers a chance to profit from other well documented stock market anomalies.

The Low Book Value Effect.

Extensive academic research has shown that stocks with below-average price-to-book ratios tend to outperform the market. Numerous test portfolios have shown that buying a collection of stocks with low price/book ratios will deliver market-beating performance.

The Low-PE effect.

Stocks bought at low price/earnings ratios lead to better performance than stocks bought at higher ratios of price to earnings. Included within this anomaly are high dividend stocks and low prices in relation to sales and cash flow (earnings plus depreciation expense).


Reversion-to-the-Mean is almost a law of nature with respect to company performance. Very often, companies whose recent performance has been poor tend to perk up and improve. Buying the “Dogs of the Dow” is a well-known strategy that buys the Dow Jones Average’s worst performers at the end of the year, anticipating mean reversion.

Below are lists of stocks that may be set-up to benefit from a handful of stock market anomalies. All are trading near year lows, with cheap valuations and have recently been bought by insiders.

As always, due your homework. Cheap stocks can always get cheaper!

Stocks with 8% or greater yields, recently trading within 10% of 52- week lows, where insiders have recently purchased.

Last FilingCompanyTickerIndustry# InsidersLast TradeTotal SharesAvg. Price Total 
22-Nov-2019Western Midstream Partners,…WESGas Utilities106-Aug-20198000024.98 $   1,998,032
21-Nov-2019New Media Investment Group …GCIPublishing – Newspapers121-Nov-20192850006.61 $   1,883,850
14-Nov-2019Oaktree Capital Group, LLCOAKRegional – Mid-Atlantic Banks112-Nov-2019421127.21 $      114,581
13-Nov-2019Colony Credit Real Estate, …CLNCOther113-Nov-201910000011.93 $   1,193,000
12-Nov-2019Quad/Graphics, Inc.QUADBusiness Services408-Nov-2019260634.48 $      116,766
12-Nov-2019Neuberger Berman Mlp & Ener…NMLOther108-Nov-2019500006.59 $      329,460
06-Nov-2019American Capital Agency Corp.AGNCREIT – Residential105-Nov-2019735017.01 $      125,060
31-Oct-2019Stonemor Partners LPSTONPersonal Services130-Oct-201939256601 $   3,925,660
25-Oct-2019New Mountain Finance Corpor…NMFCConglomerates423-Oct-201940000013.25 $   5,300,000

Stocks with Price-to-sales ratios less than 1.25x that recently traded near 52-week-lows and have seen recent insider buying

Last FilingCompanyTickerIndustry# InsidersLast Trade Total Shares Avg. Price Total 
21-Nov-2019Universal Insurance Holding…UVEProperty & Casualty Insurance320-Nov-2019                      23,400 28.23 $                 660,585
13-Nov-2019Encana CorpECAMajor Integrated Oil & Gas112-Nov-2019                      22,000 4.52 $                   99,540
12-Nov-2019Tuesday Morning Corp.TUESDiscount, Variety Stores108-Nov-2019                      65,000 1.54 $                 100,120
12-Nov-2019Flexsteel Industries Inc.FLXSHome Furnishings & Fixtures408-Nov-2019                        9,880 17.69 $                 174,733
07-Nov-2019Stewart Information Service…STCSurety & Title Insurance107-Nov-2019                      11,316 40.61 $                 459,593
01-Nov-2019Fedex CorpFDXAir Delivery & Freight Services101-Nov-2019                        5,000 156.5 $                 782,500
01-Nov-2019Trinity Industries Inc.TRNRailroads101-Nov-2019                 1,650,000 19.95 $            32,912,500
01-Nov-2019Landec Corp.LNDCSynthetics131-Oct-2019                        5,100 9.74 $                   49,674

Stocks with Price-to-Book ratios less than 0.8x, that have recently traded near 52-week lows and have seen recent insider buying.

Last FilingCompanyTickerIndustry# InsidersLast Trade Total Shares Avg. Price Total 
21-Nov-2019Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc.CRZOIndependent Oil & Gas120-Nov-2019                      50,000 6.47 $                 323,690
19-Nov-2019Centennial Resource Develop…CDEVOther315-Nov-2019                    157,500 3.41 $                 537,337
18-Nov-2019Tidewater Inc.TDWShipping318-Nov-2019                      25,711 14.33 $                 368,313
18-Nov-2019U.S. Silica Holdings, Inc.SLCAIndustrial Metals & Minerals415-Nov-2019                      35,000 5.06 $                 176,976
15-Nov-2019Preferred Apartment Communi…APTSREIT – Residential214-Nov-2019                      10,460 13.07 $                 136,744
13-Nov-2019Party City Holdco Inc.PRTYSpecialty Retail, Other311-Nov-2019                    338,240 2.32 $                 784,717
13-Nov-2019Gran Tierra Energy, Inc.GTEIndependent Oil & Gas708-Nov-2019                 3,021,800 1.14 $              3,452,461
13-Nov-2019Hersha Hospitality TrustHTREIT – Retail312-Nov-2019                      10,906 13.42 $                 146,348
13-Nov-2019Colony Credit Real Estate, …CLNCOther113-Nov-2019                    100,000 11.93 $              1,193,000
13-Nov-2019Encana CorpECAMajor Integrated Oil & Gas612-Nov-2019                    117,800 4.07 $                 478,906
12-Nov-2019Tuesday Morning Corp.TUESDiscount, Variety Stores108-Nov-2019                      65,000 1.54 $                 100,120
07-Nov-2019Rayonier Advanced Materials…RYAMChemicals – Major Diversified106-Nov-2019                    100,000 3.63 $                 363,400


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