A Meta Platforms Inc. executive’s multimillion-dollar stock sale could be another sign that things are returning to normal at the social-media company.
Chief Business Officer Marne Levine sold $4.45 million worth of Meta shares META,
The sale was related to a Rule 10b5-1 trading plan, which triggers sales at a certain price or time depending on the conditions. Sales enacted through these plans can still be “very meaningful” data points, according to Max Magee, a senior analyst at VerityData, which tracks buyback patterns and insider activity.
Some executives sell more methodically, like Meta Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Newstead, who liquidates a small number of shares weekly, according to Magee. You get more interesting potential signals from executives like Levine, who hasn’t sold stock since May, he said.
While it’s not clear from the SEC filing why the sale went off Feb. 7, Magee sees reason to believe it could be due to price. Levine’s shares were sold in multiple transactions at prices between $191.00 to $191.05, according to the filing. When she sold stock in May, she did so at a price just above $195.
“This may suggest that we have reached a threshold where Meta shares have come back to a price at which their executives are more broadly willing to sell,” Magee told MarketWatch. “It did seem that over the last couple of quarters, they did move to the sidelines.”
“The sales were pursuant to a 10b5-1 Plan that Marne has set up (the sale was made based on the schedule provided in her plan at the time of adoption),” a Meta spokesperson said.
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Before February, Meta shares hadn’t traded above $191 since June 9, 2022, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Shares touched as low as $88.09 in November, about 55% below the price of Levine’s prior sale.
Levine’s selling is a data point suggesting things are “a little bit back to business as usual” for Meta, according to Magee. The stock came under heavy pressure last fall amid concerns about the advertising market and the company’s lofty spending goals, but they’re in the midst of recovering after Meta executives since espoused efficiency.
Tech executives like Levine receive “such a huge amount” of their compensation in company shares and sell stock as a way of receiving their pay, Magee said. Levine received a base salary of $732,500 in 2021, according to Meta’s most recent proxy, along with a bonus of $643,294, but she was also awarded many millions of dollars in stock, some of which is still subject to vesting.
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Magee will be looking to see if other Meta executives follow suit in their selling, noting that Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who sells stock through entities like his foundation, hasn’t made a sale since November 2021.
Meta stock has declined 23.6% in the past year, but has been moving strongly higher in 2023, with a 44.7% increase so far this year. The S&P 500 index SPX,