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Overwhelming majority of insiders buying energy services stocks

Oil rigs are seen in Midland, Texas, in this photo from 2008.

JESSICA RINALDI/REUTERS

Oil and gas services equipment stocks have fallen out of favour with investors, but certainly not with the executives and directors who work within the industry.

Insider buying in those companies is remarkably high, jumping over the 1000 per cent level late last month, according to INK Research. That means there were more than 10 stocks in the group with key insider buying for every one with selling.

The indicator has come off a little over the last few days, now at 600 per cent. But that's still a very high number and worth noting given that corporate insiders, on average, tend to make better calls on buying and selling shares than individual investors.

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The oil and gas equipment and services subindex of the TSX has tumbled in recent weeks. Trading today near 1,866, it is just barely above this summer's lows near 1,800 and more than 13 per cent off its late September highs.

Corporate insiders clearly are going bargain hunting.

"Investors have been bailing on the stocks due to concerns over capital spending by exploration companies," noted Ted Dixon, CEO of INK Research.

He believes these concerns are probably short sighted.

"The ability to bring unconventional drilling targets into production will require a team effort between the property developers and the technical hired hands. The race to get more barrels out of the ground is heating up, not growing colder.

"Unless Canadian oil and gas service companies have lost some sort of technological edge that we are unaware of, the prospects for the group may be more upbeat than investors assume," he said.

The energy sector indicator, which encompasses much more than just the oil and gas services stocks, continues to be high as well. At 309 per cent, there is more than three stocks with key insider buying for ever one with selling.

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Energy firms with the most insider buying, by value, over the past 60 days are Crescent Point Energy, Penn West Petroleum, Pengrowth Energy and Poseidon Concepts.

Overall, INK's sentiment indicator for all TSX-listed stocks is at 152.3 per cent and has been trending up in recent weeks.

The indicators are derived by taking the number of stocks with buy-only transactions over the last 60 days, and dividing that with the number of sell-only transactions. The indicators ignore stocks that have both buying and selling in an effort to give a more accurate reading.

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About the Author
Investment Editor

Darcy Keith is The Globe and Mail's Investment Editor. He has been a business journalist since 1992 and joined the Report on Business in 2010 from Yahoo! Canada, where he was the senior editor of finance. More

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