Investors Dumped Bank Stocks. Insiders at 2 Small Banks Bought Shares.

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Bankwell Financial and Peapack-Gladstone insiders bought up stock.


Stocks in the banking sector tumbled in March, as investors worried about what name would be the next SVB Financial, Signature Bank, or Credit Suisse.

Not even the group’s smallest publicly traded stocks avoided the blow.
Peapack-Gladstone Financial
(ticker: PGC) and
Bankwell Financial Group
(BWFG), with market values of only $520 million and $200 million, are down 20% and 16% so far this year, with most of the drops in March.

Insiders at both banks responded by buying up shares. Three Peapack-Gladstone insiders, led by Chairman F. Duffield Meyercord, have bought $307,400 of company stock on the open market in March. Meyercord, a Peapack-Gladstone director since 1991, paid $147,140 on March 24 for 4,900 shares, an average price of $30.03 each. According to a form he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Meyercord now owns 126,466 Peapack-Gladstone shares.

It was Meyercord’s first open-market stock buy since November 2020 when he paid $25,575 for 1,500 shares, an average price of $17.05 each. He is a managing partner of the investment bank Carl Marks Advisory Group.

Peapack-Gladstone President and CEO Douglas L. Kennedy paid $32,000 on March 13 for 1,000 shares, an average price of $32.03 each.

“We have the utmost confidence in our company,” Peapack-Gladstone said in response to a request for comment. “Our stock purchases reflect our conviction that we will continue to perform well through this challenging time, and that the community and regional banking system remains solid.”

Bankwell, whose branches feature photographs of pets ready for adoption into “fur-ever homes,” is less than half the size of Peapack-Gladstone.

But Bankwell’s March insider-stock buys of $1.69 million by five people far exceeded those at Peapack-Gladstone. Nearly all of Bankwell’s purchases were made by director James M. Garnett Jr., a retired Citigroup (C) executive who paid $1.66 million from March 1 through 21 for a total of 60,379 Bankwell shares, an average price of $27.56 each.

Bankwell declined to comment or to make Garnett available to discuss his stock purchases. His other purchases this year were $8,200 for 269 shares in February.

Inside Scoop is a regular Barron’s feature covering stock transactions by corporate executives and board members—so-called insiders—as well as large shareholders, politicians, and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock trades with the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory groups.

Write to Ed Lin at [email protected] and follow @BarronsEdLin.

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