Cowin laps up Fairfax stock

JUST when it looked as if Gerry Harvey would top the buyers' table, Jack Cowin surfaced as the buyer of 2 million Fairfax Media shares.

Cowin paid about 46¢ a share on Wednesday, increasing his stake in the company that owns The Age to 3 million shares.

Cowin joined the board in July and about two months later he bought 1 million shares at 44¢.

The stock closed on Friday at 48.5¢ on extremely heavy turnover; some 26 per cent of the capital was traded in November.

Overall, the scorecard registered $5 million to $10.9 million in favour of directors doing some selling.

Heading the sellers' list was Michael Kay, the man who has presided over McMillan Shakespeare's earnings growth of 27 per cent compound a year since he took the reins in 2008.

Scrip in the salary packager closed yesterday at $13.30 - 16¢ below its high.

Also cashing in some chips was non-executive director Ross Chessari.

Elsewhere, Woolworths chief Grant O'Brien did some option exercising and share selling.

He paid $25.57 to exercise the options and sold 'em at, er, well, who knows?

Woolworths either does what it's meant to do and discloses the price, or unhelpfully describes it as ''market value''. So the accompanying table's estimated price O'Brien sold at was $28.20. He said the proceeds were used to fund the exercise price and tax arising from the exercise.

So what can be gleaned from the buyers' list?

Well, have a look at what those with a stockbroking background were doing.

Take Bruce Parncutt, a one-time McIntosh Securities heavy.

He is a non-executive of Acrux, which develops products to administer drugs through the skin.

Acrux appreciated from 50¢ in 2009 to as high as $4.75 this year and has since fallen back to around $2.86. In September, Parncutt was paying $3.20 a share.

Interests associated with Johnny Paterson, a former House of Were loyalist, spent $220,000 on Australian Foundation Investment Company convertible notes.

This story Cowin laps up Fairfax stock first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.