Interactive Investor

Insider: activity at Aviva, Lloyds Bank, Indivior and Galliford Try

There have been some big director deals done over the past week including at two popular FTSE 100 companies. Lee Wild runs through the details.

11th March 2024 11:31

Lee Wild from interactive investor

Annual results from Aviva (LSE:AV.) triggered another wave of buying interest in the blue-chip insurer that had the shares up as much as 6.5% and at their highest in four years. Chief executive Amanda Blanc and her husband were among those betting there’s more to come from this FTSE 100 income play.

General insurance premiums rose 13% in 2023 to £10.9 billion, operating profit was up 9% at £1.47 billion, 2% ahead of consensus estimates, and a Solvency cover ratio of 207% was also better than expected. Meanwhile, the dividend rises 8% to 33.4p and a new £300 million share buyback begins straightaway.  

So confident is the company that its operating profit target is upgraded to £2 billion by 2026 and dividend guidance to mid-single digits growth in the cash cost of the annual payout. 

Blanc said: "Aviva is financially strong. We are trading consistently well. Our prospects have never been better. All the ingredients are in place to ensure Aviva continues to deliver an outstanding performance for our customers and our shareholders. I'm certain we will."

It explains why she wasted no time spending over £50,000 on 10,597 Aviva shares at 474.1p each, and Ken Blanc bought 17,121 shares at 468.7p, costing over £80,000.

Blanc is already sitting on a tidy paper profit from a £100,000 investment last August at 381.2p. As my colleague Graeme Evans reported at the time, reaction to half-year results had been lacklustre despite Blanc claiming “There is much more Aviva can and will achieve”.

Aviva shares have underperformed the FTSE 100 for at least the past five years and behaved similarly to rival Legal & General Group (LSE:LGEN) for the past 12 months. But there’s been a divergence since the middle of February when Aviva shares grew in popularity. That coincides with an upgrade to ‘buy’ and price target of 490p by the team at Bank of America. Previously, UBS had raised its price target to 515p, believing there to be an upside risk to Aviva’s cash generation target.

Elsewhere, directors at a trio of well-known companies were in selling mood, among them Andrew Walton at Lloyds Banking Group (LSE:LLOY).

The high street lender’s chief sustainability officer and chief corporate affairs officer bagged £192,485 on 7 March after getting rid of 396,387 Lloyds shares at 48.56p each.

The news came the same week we found out that Walton has received over 3.7 million Lloyds shares as part of the bank’s latest long-term incentive plan (LTIP) awards. He’ll be able to sell them 12 months after the awards vest, if the company meets financial, strategic and environmental performance criteria.  

He’ll be hoping that the share price can break out of the tight range we’ve seen for the past three years. Despite much higher interest rates, it’s largely traded between 40p and 50p since March 2021. 

There was selling at Indivior Ordinary Share (LSE:INDV), too, after LTIPs granted on 1 March 2021 vested. A number of execs took the opportunity to trouser a small fortune, among them chief scientific officer Christian Heidbreder who offloaded 134,408 shares at 1,715p each to net £2.3 million. Chief human resources officer Jon Fogle bagged £1.8 million from his sell order and chief commercial officer Richard Simkin a tidy £1.2 million.

Shares in the FTSE 250 pharmaceuticals company have a had a solid 2024, up 36% so far this year and back at prices seen last autumn. The former Reckitt Benckiser Group arm, best known for its Sublocade treatment for moderate to severe opioid use disorder, rocketed 20% after results on 22 February showed a better-than-expected performance in the fourth quarter and strong guidance for 2024. 

The company now forecasts sales growth of 18% this year and about 300 basis points of operating margin expansion at the mid-points. It’s also started conversations with shareholders about shifting its primary listing to the US this summer.

And finally, to Galliford Try Holdings (LSE:GFRD) where the construction company unveiled last week it had increased half-year revenue by 21%, boosted divisional operating margin to 2.5% and pre-tax profit by a third. The dividend is also up 33% at 4p a share.

Gillian Jubb, a person closely associated with Ian Jubb, managing director for all building operations, waited until Friday before selling 150,000 shares at an average price of 247p, the day after Galliford shares hit a record high at 260p. The sale netted Jubb £370,500.

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