Shares in fruit-growing and logistics company Scales Corporation fell more than 6 per cent this week after a trust associated with its managing director Andy Borland sold some shares.

The trust sold 750,000 shares - half the amount it owned - for $3.5 million.

Scales shares have performed very strongly of late hitting a record high of $4.95 on May 14.

That's a far cry from its initial public offer price of $1.60 when the company first listed back in July 2014.


But was the reaction to the sell-down warranted?

Mark Lister, head of private wealth at Craigs Investment Partners says management selling and buying shares is always going to get the attention of investors and analysts.

"But our job is still to focus more on what is happening in the business. Is the company moving in the right direction? Are those reasons for holding the company still in place?"

Lister says it has to decide whether the company is still executing its strategy well and in the case of Scales they have done everything right, Lister says.

It also matters how many shares a boss sells.

"If the CEO sells their entire shareholders that would be concerning.

"If they are selling some of their holding we want them to keep a good chunk of it."


There are some positive side effects to bosses selling.


Founders selling up chunks can make the stock more liquid allowing more shares to trade.

That was certainly the case when former Xero chief executive Rod Drury sold some of his shares, says Harbour Asset Management's Shane Solly.

In November last year Drury sold three million shares pocketing $94.5 million. He still has 17.7 million shares - a stake of 12.8 per cent in the company.

Drury remains the largest shareholder in Xero even after the share sale with a stake of 12.8 per cent and 17.7 million shares.

"It makes it easier for investors to buy and sell and that is a good thing," says Solly

Former managing director's Geoff Babidge's sale of shares in A2Milk is another example of that.

Babidge sold 900,000 shares for $2.2m in February last year.


Some management sell shares in a company because they have to pay back loans that were made to them as part of long-term incentive schemes.

But like regular people CEOs also have lives outside of work and may sometimes want the money to do a renovation on their home or buy other assets.

They may also get divorced and have to divvy up their assets with an ex-spouse.

Lister says sometimes the reason might be that the CEO is simply taking some money off the table.

Founder shareholders often have all of their money tied up in a company and if the share price has doubled or tripled in value and they decide to cash up some Lister says it is hard to judge them on that.


Bosses don't always sell to their future advantage.

Drury made $94.5 million when he sold his shares for $31.50 a piece.

But they would be worth more if he still owned them now. On Wednesday Xero shares closed at A$40.20 on the ASX.

"He would have been wealthier had he hung onto it," Lister says.

Solly also points to new Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor who bought shares in December last year.

Taylor paid just over $1m for 143,573 shares putting the price around $6.98. If he sold them today he would be out of pocket.

CEOs, other management and company insiders only have certain windows for selling shares.

They can't sell the shares before a result or annual meeting is due and there is information they might know about which other shareholders don't.

"They are highly regulated and can't get away with any shenanigans," says Lister.

Overseas there are people that track insider trading in big markets like the US stock markets and they can be seen as a pointer for where a company is headed.

Lister says rather than being the be all and end it is just one more piece of the puzzle when it comes to investing.


Anyone with unwanted shares can get rid of them for good. Variety - the children's charity has been selected as this year's beneficiary for the Shares for Good programme.

The was programme was set up to allow people to sell small parcels of shares and donate the money to charity without being pinged for brokerage costs.

It is a pro-bono collaboration between JBWere, NZX, Computershare and Link Market Services and all of the proceeds from the sale of shares goes directly to the charity.