DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) board member Shalom Meckenzie divested $34 million worth of the sportsbook operator’s shares on June 14. That’s just a day before Hindenburg Research revealed a short position in the gaming stock while publishing a bearish report blasting the company.
On June 14, Meckenzie sold 660,000 shares of DraftKings at an average price of $51.56 for proceeds of $34.02 million, according to Insider Arbitrage data.
The next day, the shares tumbled after Hindenburg published a lengthy report. The firm alleges SBTech operates in countries where sports betting isn’t permitted, and that the Israeli betting technology firm may have ties to organized crime. SBTech was founded by Meckenzie and is now a unit of DraftKings.
There doesn’t appear to be connections between Meckenzie’s most recent sale and the Hindenburg report. The Israeli billionaire is the largest owner of DraftKings common stock. He’s coming into the stake and his board seat by way of SBTech participating in a transaction in which DraftKings merged with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), which set the stage for it to become a publicly traded entity.
As Hindenburg notes in its report, Meckenzie’s been an avid seller of DraftKings stock for some time. From June 2020 through the day the research firm’s note was published, insiders at the gaming company sold $1.4 billion worth of shares. The SBTech founder accounted for over a third of that tally at $567.81 million.
Meckenzie’s sales of DraftKings equity surpassed the next two biggest sellers — directors John Salter and Steven Murray — on a combined basis. Hindenburg overtly states it’s likely Meckenzie will be selling more of the stock.
Several weeks ago, Meckenzie transferred 19 million shares to a trust for his spouse and kids, paving the way for them to dispose of ~$1 billion in stock without the same reporting requirements he would be subject to,” according to the research firm.
Prior to his most recent sale, Meckenzie divested 6.94 million DraftKings shares last October and 4.63 million shares on June 23, 2020. As of June 14, 2021, he still owns 21.52 million shares, according to Insider Arbitrage.
Across all industries, it’s common for company insiders, including board members, to buy and sell shares of the firm’s equity. It’s also an activity Wall Street and investors pay attention to.
Conventional wisdom holds that’s usually positive when a high-ranking executive or director buys the stock. That belief is rooted in the theory that the buyer is only buying for one reason: Because he or she thinks the shares will appreciate.
Conversely, it’s not always a negative when an insider sells. Those sales may occur simply because the insider needs some cash or wants to diversify his or her personal portfolio.
All that said, the optics of Meckenzie’s latest sale of DraftKings stock aren’t great, as the transaction occurred a day before the release of the Hindenburg report and with the shares scuffling. The stock shed a third of its value over the past 90 days.