Something Smells at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

By Jonathan Weil

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. shares lost almost half their value today after the company reported second-quarter revenue that trailed analysts' forecasts. On that note, it's worth revisiting a March 26 Bloomberg News story about some remarkably timed stock sales by the company's founder and chairman, Robert P. Stiller.

Stiller sold $66.3 million of his stock in February: 500,000 shares on Feb. 15 at $65.94 each, and 500,000 shares on Feb. 24 at $66.68 each. The sales were his largest in a single month since at least 2003, when the stock traded below $2.

On March 9, Green Mountain shares fell 16 percent to $52.59 on Starbucks' introduction of a machine for home-brewing single cups of espresso and coffee, a challenge to Green Mountain's Keurig system. Green Mountain spokesmen at the time declined to specify when the company learned of Starbucks' plan.

The stock closed today at $25.87, down 48 percent.

Stiller also disposed of 19,065 shares on March 27, when they still fetched $51.91. Stiller classified that transaction as a gift in the form he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosing the ownership change.

If Stiller is selling, you don't want to be buying.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter.)

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