Filthy Rich Jeff Bezos Sells $200 Million Worth of Amazon Stock
Cue Mr. Bill -- Oh no! . I prefer to tee up some Nicki Minaj and pound the alarm! . Squash the mindless drivel about executives selling stock in game-changing companies. Bezos at Amazon, Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook (FB) .
First, the deal on Bezos, whether it means anything or not, warrants reporting just to illustrate the sheer "mind-boggleness" of his wealth.
It's on record at the SEC: Bezos dumped 395,051 shares of AMZN on November 29, 2011, and another 395,051 shares of AMZN on November 30, 2011. Before taxes, of course, he takes in $197,545,252 on the transactions. But that's not even the most incredible part.
After these sales, Bezos still owns 87,165,171 shares of AMZN, worth roughly . . . well . . . here's what my calculator spit out: 2.179129e+10. Holy crap! That's a ton of money.
So, clearly, he's still committed to the company. But, really, does it matter much? Can you use what a billionaire genius does with a fraction of 87-odd million shares of his company's stock to gauge its health?
Those who try are being flat-out disingenuous. Because, ultimately, if you're bearish AMZN, you do not understand Amazon, you're all hung on valuation or a mix of both. The two go hand-in-hand. So, to push this bear case, you use anything you can to support the notion of pending doom as the stock continues to rise.
Check the history. Bezos sells on a regular basis. He has been for years. Throwing a dart here: On November 1 and 2, 2010, Bezos divested 932,600 shares to collect, before taxes, $152,480,100. (I rounded the numbers there).
Since he made those transactions, AMZN is up about 54%.
Lots of old-time investors can't seem to get past two modern realities -- piped-up valuations and headline-grabbing insider selling.
You absolutely cannot sell a stock on the presence of either of those things alone or in tandem. In fact -- and I might actually spend the time to do the work to figure this out -- I would feel comfortable betting that, at least among Nasdaq stocks (particularly Nasdaq 100 names), the higher the valuation and the more prolific the insider selling, the larger the stock's return.
The Bezos windfall comes at a time of "fiscal cliff"-related uncertainty with investors fleeing names as big and dominant as Apple (AAPL) because they want to save a buck or several million in capital gains taxes.
I take this as a bullish sign.
If money meant much to Bezos, he would be kicking himself right now. Dude sold that 900,000-share lot in 2010 for nearly $100 less than AMZN is worth per share today. Imagine if he waited. Two years ago, Bezos left like $81 million on the table.