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3 “Strong Buy” Stocks Insiders Are Snapping Up

Inside trading has a bad sound to it, but what is it really? Corporate insiders are company officers – the Presidents and VPs and Execs and Board members who run the world’s public – and private – companies. Their positions put them ‘in the know,’ and make them privy to the inner workings of their companies. Using that information to buy up stock would be underhanded, except for two points. First, they trade public shares openly. They don’t hide their transactions, and the investing public can see what they are doing – and read the hints given. And second, corporate insiders are not just trying to make money for themselves. Their positions make them responsible – to their Boards, to higher execs, and to the company shareholders – for bringing in a profit. What this means for investors, is insider moves provide valuable hints to a stock’s soundness. A casual stock player can put together a viable strategy just by noting and following the trades made by corporate insiders. TipRanks tracks these moves, and makes the data available to the public through the Insiders’ Hot Stocks tool. With its up-to-date data and variety of filters, this tool can bring some interesting stock options to light. We’ve picked three “Strong Buy” stocks with recent insider buying that investors should take a closer look at.Raytheon Technologies (RTX)First up is Raytheon, a major research and manufacturing contractor for the US defense and aerospace industries. This company produces many of the air-to-surface guided missiles and fighter aircraft radar systems used by the US Air Force. The military tries to make the contracting process as varied as possible, but there are limited number of companies capable of producing high-end, modern hardware for the Pentagon – and Raytheon benefits from being part of a small club.A combination of military retrenchment and the ongoing coronavirus crisis pushed Raytheon’s revenues down in Q1, and both revenues and earnings down in Q2. The third quarter, however, saw a bounce back as EPS jumped 45% to 58 cents. It’s important to note that RTX has beaten the quarterly earnings forecasts consistently, going back two years.Along with the quarterly earnings, Raytheon announced its dividend payment, at 47.5 cents per common share. This is the third quarter in a row with the dividend at this level; the company reduced the payment earlier this year, to keep it affordable when the share price fell. RTX’s dividend gives a yield of 3.5%, nearly double the Industrial Goods sector average for peer companies.Turning to the insiders, we see two big purchases in the last few days. First, President and CEO Gregory Hayes laid down $3.35 million for a bloc of 61,406 shares in his company. The second large buy was from Thomas Kennedy, who’s 19,000 share purchase cost an estimated $999,800. These buys are a show of confidence in the company, coming the day after the Q3 earnings release.Covering Raytheon for RBC Capital, analyst Michael Eisen noted, “We believe the company is executing well with what is within its control, delivering on cost take out, synergy realization, and FCF generation…” Looking at the details, and the company strengths, Eisen adds, “…we view the company’s book of business as one of the most attractive under coverage with heavy alignment with the fastest and most supported missile, missile defense, cyber, and space systems.”In line with his comments, Eisen gives Raytheon an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating, and his $68 price target suggests a 22% upside for the stock. (To watch Eisen’s track record, click here)Overall, Raytheon’s Strong Buy analyst consensus rating is unanimous, based on 7 recent Buy reviews. The stock is selling for $55.61 and the average price target of $76.71 implies a one-year upside of 38%. (See RTX stock analysis on TipRanks)Ares Capital Corporation (ARCC)Next up, Ares Capital, is an asset management company with a focus on business development in the middle-market segment. Companies like Ares fill a vital role in the business world, providing cash, capital, credit, and financing for smaller ventures that might otherwise have difficulty accessing money markets. Ares boasts over 350 companies in its investment portfolio, with that portfolio valued over $14 billion.After a drastic hit to revenue, followed by a fall in EPS, during 1H20, Ares is starting to see a recovery. Revenues are up 49%, from $333 million in the second quarter to $497 million in the third. EPS is flat, at 39 cents, but beat the estimates in both Q2 and Q3. The outlook for Q4 is another 39 cents EPS.In a sign that the company feel confident, Ares declared its Q4 dividend in late October. The payment, scheduled for the end of December, is 40 cents per common share. The dividend annualized to $1.60 and yields an impressive 11.57%, or nearly 6x the average found among S&P-listed companies.Kipp Deveer, Ares’ CEO, swung the needle on insider sentiment strongly positive when he purchased 75,000 shares at the end of October. The trade cost him $1.048 million, and came just two months after Ares’ officers and directors made a series of smaller – but also informative – stock purchases. Insider buys on ARCC have totaled almost $1.9 million in the past three months.Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski points out that ARCC remains committed to keeping its dividend reliable, and writes of the company’s value to investors, “We continue to view ARCC as a great holding in the BDC space givens its size, diversified holdings and history of NAV preservation through difficult times… We see ARCC providing investors with the comfort of owning a long-established, large BDC with an excellent long-term, through-the-cycle track record…”Kotowski’s $16 price target implies a 12% one-year upside, and supports his Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating on the stock. (To watch Kotowski’s track record, click here)It’s not often that the analysts all agree on a stock, so when it does happen, take note. ARCC’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on a unanimous 12 Buys. The stock’s $16.08 average price target is in line with Kotowski’s view. (See ARCC stock analysis on TipRanks)Banc of California (BANC)Last on our list is a full-service business bank, one of the largest in the state of California. Headquartered in Santa Ana, the bank focuses on small and mid-sized business through a network of 39 offices, including 31 service branches, spread across the state from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Banc of California boasts over $7.8 billion in total assets.Like much of the banking industry, the economic shutdowns of 1H20 were bad news for BANC. The company has rebounded, however, and after negative earnings in Q1 and Q2 reported a positive net EPS of 24 cents in Q3. This was well above the 14-cent forecast, and solidly in-line with the company’s pre-crisis performance. Revenues, which dipped in Q1, are also back to historic levels, at $59.8 million for Q3.Turning to the dividend, the current quarterly payout of 6 cents per common share has been stable for the past 6 quarters. It annualizes to 24 cents per share and gives a yield of 2%, almost exactly the average found among dividend payers in the S&P 500. They key here is reliability, and the company’s commitment to making the payments.Adding to the good news, BANC saw its first big insider buy in four months. Last Thursday, October 29, President and CEO Jared Wolff bought 10,000 shares for $115,000. Well Fargo analyst Timur Braziler makes BANC one of his Top Picks, and writes of the stock, “As long as credit holds up, and we think it will, we expect further earnings momentum, TBV growth, and discounted valuation relative to scarcity value to provide plenty of additional upside… Credit trends are holding up well, as delinquencies, criticized/classified, and nonperforming balances all improved sequentially.”To this end, Braziler rates the stock as Overweight (i.e. Buy), and sets a $15 price target that indicates room for 23% growth in the next 12 months. (To watch Braziler’s track record, click here)All in all, Banc of California holds a Strong Buy from the analyst consensus, based on 4 reviews including 3 Buys and 1 Hold. The shares have an average price target of $14.17, giving a 16% upside potential from the $12.19 trading price. (See BANC’s stock analysis at TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.