It would appear that the insiders at General Motors do not have as rosy a view on the financial outlook for the company as they would have the rest of the public believe. The well-paid executives at GM sold out of another $2.8 million worth of shares in June according to Yahoo Financial statistics. Of course, the sales of shares are pure profits for the higher-ups at GM, considering that the elite group of executives receive millions of dollars’ worth of GM shares for free through stock options.
Heavy insider selling has been ongoing at GM since I wrote about a SIGTARP report in September of 2014 that unveiled excessive pay at GM. The report found that the top nine executives at GM saw income rise from $32,307,500 to $35,335,000 in 2013.
During the 12 month period from March of 2013 to March of 2014 eight GM executives sold over $36 million worth of shares. Insider selling has not seemed to slow as executives continue to cash out while GM shares flounder.
So, what have the highly-paid executives at GM done to earn their millions of dollars? GM shares are now trading at near 52 week lows at around $31 per share, less than the $33 IPO price in 2010. GM stock has declined close to 15% over the past three months compared to down about 2% for the broader S&P 500 index. Most disturbingly for GM shareholders, this comes at a time where car sales are at all-time highs and at a time when GM is buying back billions of dollars of its own shares.
The GM insider selling in June came from nine executives at the company with director and ex-UAW advisor, Stephen Girsky, leading the pack with a sale of $821,837 worth of shares. The person most responsible for GM’s performance, or lack thereof, is CEO Mary Barra. Barra cashed in to the tune of $590,896 worth of shares sold. Despite the horrible performance of GM shares, Ms. Barra continues to receive accolades from the media for being a female executive.
US taxpayers paid billions of dollars to keep GM afloat when the company was navigated through a bankruptcy process by the Obama Administration in 2009. Since then, politically-favored groups like the UAW have benefited along with the wealthy executives who continue to bilk the company for millions of dollars in pay as the rest of shareholders watch GM’s share price continue to tumble. The worst may be yet to come as the auto industry nears a downturn that is inevitable in the highly cyclical and competitive sector.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.