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Wal-Mart's Waltons Renew First Solar Selling

The Wal-Mart family is again selling shares of U.S. solar stock First Solar.



) -- The estate of John Walton, of


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family fame, has a history of selling shares of

First Solar

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in blocks and shortly after rallies in the share price of the U.S. solar bellwether.

On Tuesday afternoon, the estate of John Walton filed insider sales transactions with the Securities and Exchange Commission showing a sale of just over 30,000 shares of First Solar at a price of $140.15. The sales were made on Sept. 10 and Sept. 13.

First Solar watchers, and solar investors more generally, often look to the Walton sales of First Solar as a sign of a ceiling in the value of First Solar shares. Many solar insiders contend that the Waltons -- early backers of First Solar among many green investments form the Wal-Mart heirs -- are exiting First Solar at every chance they get, and the recent rally in the solar sector seemed to represent the latest chance to sell some First Solar stock.

The price at which the Waltons sold First Solar is exactly the same as insider sales made in June and the total amount of shares sold is similar.

>>Waltons Sell First Solar

The Waltons made their biggest First Solar sale of the year back in May, shedding more than 300,000 shares in a range between $140 and $148.

The Walton sales are made under the auspices of the SEC 10b5-1 trading plan for insiders to sell shares for retirement planning purposes. However, many solar bears and insider sales experts contend that these retirement plan sales are merely a convenient cover for insiders who are really selling to exit a stock at a price they don't think it will soar past any time soon. It's a debatable point, and there's plenty of academic evidence to counter the argument that insider sales are a bear call on a stock.

Nevertheless, for those investors and solar bears who place weight in insider sales, and the shrewdness of the Waltons in general, the Wal-Mart clan has just sold First Solar again at a price, $140, which has triggered lots of Walton selling of the U.S. solar bellwether this year.

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--Written by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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