Big Insider Purchases Buoy Spreadtrum

08/19/2011 10:15 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Igor Greenwald

Chief Investment Strategist, MLP Profits

The stock Muddy Waters couldn’t take down bucked a panicky market after the CEO and CFO spent more than $3 million on shares, writes MoneyShow.com senior editor Igor Greenwald.

Yesterday was another terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the stock market.

With recession and European financial collapse looming ever larger, the S&P 500 lost 4.5%, yet still handily outperformed the sinking Nasdaq.

There were 15 losers for every winner on the New York Stock Exchange, and downside volume outnumbered upside flows by 30 to 1, indicative of almost zero buying interest.

But if you’re looking for that rare silver lining in the funnel cloud, you could do worse than Spreadtrum Communications (SPRD).

It’s not just that the chip maker added 3% while almost every other tech stock tanked. It was also its recent history as a heavily manipulated stock nearly undone by fearmongering and innuendo.

Less than two months ago, the Hong Kong shortseller who’d just laid John Paulson low issued an open letter to Spreadtrum’s CEO, insinuating financial irregularities but offering no evidence.

Management followed up with a reassuring conference call, announced a buyback and a modest dividend, then delivered another excellent quarter, boosting guidance.

And then yesterday, the company announced that its CEO and CFO spent at least $3.2 million purchasing the stock on the open market.

Meanwhile, the buyback has taken another 5.4% of the share float off the market, at an average price 16% below the one Spreadtrum closed at yesterday. The company has profited so handsomely from the machinations of short-seller Carson Block that it might as well award the fact-challenged inquisitor a bonus.

Having already stared down its demons, the stock has been a relatively strong performer in the recent panic. Fundamentally, it’s capitalizing on the spread of mobile phones to Asia’s poorest villagers, a trend that’s likely to continue for some time whether or not Europe self-destructs.

Asia will feel the global slowdown, but it has more will and cash than the developed world to ride it out by nurturing consumer demand. Spreadtrum is a strongly performing company poised to benefit.

I don’t own the name any more, but wish I did. It’s still in retirement accounts I manage for relatives.

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