Shares of Amazon (AMZN -1.97%) slumped Tuesday, shedding as much as 3.2%. As of 11:55 a.m. ET, the stock was still down 2.27%.
The downtrend in the broader market likely added to the pressure, but the catalyst that pushed the e-commerce and cloud computing leader lower was a report that former CEO and founder Jeff Bezos was selling a large chunk of Amazon stock — but the devil’s in the details.
A sizable stock sale?
A regulatory filing submitted last week showed that Jeff Bezos had disposed of two large swaths of Amazon stock. The Form 4, which provided details of the transactions, showed the billionaire disposed of more than 1.6 million shares of Amazon stock worth more than $239 million.
More important, however, is the fact that the price listed was zero and the transaction code “G,” which indicates that Bezos gave those shares to charity. Even after the disposal, Bezos still owns more than 988 million shares of Amazon stock worth more than $144 billion, so the relative value of the shares he gifted was minor, compared to the value of the shares he still owns.
The subject came up again Tuesday morning, as a “source” told CNBC‘s David Faber that Bezos could be “aggressive” in selling more shares of Amazon stock, parting with as many as 8 million to 10 million additional shares worth roughly $1 billion. However, those rumors remain unconfirmed.
Context is important
It’s important to remember the old adage that there are many reasons to sell stock. Given how close we are to the end of the year and the fact that the shares were donated adds to the likelihood that this was a year-end tax planning move by Bezos. Furthermore, given the total value of his holdings, $1 billion worth of stock is still a drop in the bucket, compared to his overall holdings, and doesn’t suggest in any way that Bezos has lost faith in the company he founded.
Given the significant opportunities in Amazon’s future, I’d suggest any weakness is a buying opportunity.
Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Danny Vena has positions in Amazon. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.