AMD CEO Lisa Su just sold $20 million in stock. Was it ‘opportunistic’?

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Chief Executive Lisa Su recently unloaded more than $20 million in stock in a move that struck one expert as a deviation from her past behavior but that the company said was nothing unusual.

Su sold 125,000 AMD shares

last Wednesday at prices between $162.06 and $164.84, a Friday filing with the Securities and Exchange Committee showed. She made the transaction through a Rule 10b5-1 trading plan, which is set up to let executives and other insiders arrange for share sales under predetermined conditions.

While Su has sold AMD shares in other recent periods, those transactions involved options that had been set to expire within a two-year span. Her latest activity is different because it marked the first time since 2019 that the AMD CEO dumped non-stock-option shares, said Ben Silverman, vice president of research at VerityData, in a recent report.

See also: Why Jamie Dimon’s sale of $150 million in JPMorgan’s stock could be reason for caution

An AMD spokesman characterized it as “reaching” to focus on the distinction between the exercise and sale of stock options and the sale of non-stock-option shares. The sales were ”still part of her 10b5 plan and she owns a significant number of shares following the transactions,” the AMD representative said.

Silverman said that VerityData looks at signals in insider activity that may be expressive of valuation views. “Insider selling behavior is often nuanced, and seemingly innocuous changes can be meaningful,” he said.

Su holds options on 47,600 shares with a strike price of $12.83, which are due to expire in August and likely also part of her trading plan that extends through December, according to Silverman “It’s notable that she first chose to turn to non-option shares for liquidity rather than cashing in those soon-to-expire options,” he said in his note.

Silverman told MarketWatch that the selling by company insiders of options close to expiration “is typically not a relevant valuation indicator” but the pivot to non-option shares looks like “a more opportunistic tack.”

“These are not options that expire so there’s no need to sell them on any particular schedule,” he added.

Su continues to hold about 4 million shares of AMD between her direct and indirect holdings. Her position is valued at about $700 million based on Monday’s closing price of $176.01.

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