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That’s why Bezos and Zuckerberg are selling billions of dollars in shares

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That’s why Bezos and Zuckerberg are selling billions of dollars in shares

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Patrick Semansky/AP

Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon and Mark Zuckerberg have all sold shares in their companies.

The Amazon founder and the CEOs of JPMorgan and Meta risk sending a troubling message to the markets.

Executives sell stocks for many reasons, from tax and estate planning to personal expenses.

This is a machine translation of an article from our US colleagues at Business Insider. It was automatically translated and checked by a real editor.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg have all sold large portions of their shares. How come?

Bezos is well ahead, having sold 50 million Amazon shares in just nine trading days this month, raising an estimated $8.5 billion.

Zuckerberg redeemed almost 1.8 million shares of his social media empire for more than $400 million (that’s just under 370 million euros) in the last two months of 2023.

JPMorgan’s Dimon joined the club this month. He sold around 822,000 shares in the bank he ran for around $150 million (around 138 million euros).

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Sales correspond to sophisticated trading plans

The sales are notable for several reasons. For Dimon, these are the first sales of JPMorgan shares in his 18 years as CEO.

Zuckerberg hadn’t sold Meta shares in nearly two years before his recent transactions. Before 2019, Bezos sold less than three billion US dollars (almost 2.77 billion euros) in shares per year. At the beginning of 2020 it was more than $3 billion in four days and now it’s almost three times that in nine days.

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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

All sales occurred as part of trading plans announced months in advance. That’s what executives rely on so they can sell shares without investors thinking they’re fed up with bad news — or that the stock has reached unsustainable highs.

However, it’s entirely possible that Bezos, Zuckerberg and Dimon have decided to sell because the value of their shares has skyrocketed and an exit is making more and more sense.

Meta shares have risen 186 percent in the past year. JPMorgan is up almost 30 percent and Amazon is up almost 90 percent. All three companies are trading near record highs.

The trio’s share prices may have limited room for growth from now on, but company bosses are divesting for many reasons. For example, they might have a big tax bill coming up, or they might need cash to make a big purchase like a villa or superyacht.

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Your own hand in the game

They may want to diversify their portfolio if virtually all of their wealth is in a single stock. Or they want to reorganize their holdings as part of retirement or inheritance planning.

Still, executives are fully aware of the message they are sending to the markets when they sell large chunks of their company’s stock. As is well known, Warren Buffett has never sold a share of Berkshire Hathaway.

He has said that he holds more than 99 percent of his wealth in Berkshire shares, meaning his interests are aligned with those of his shareholders. This level of “skin in the game” signals his long-term trust in and commitment to his company.

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Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

It is important to emphasize that Bezos, Zuckerberg and Dimon’s sales represent only a small portion of their shares. So they are still heavily invested in the success of their respective companies.

However, the billionaires have not purchased any stocks, which would suggest that they believe the best is yet to come and that they want to invest more in their companies in their personal portfolios.

Instead, they’ve been selling, which could give the impression that their shares are fully valued — and it’s time to take money off the table.

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