Two CEOs Bought Up Stock After Coronavirus Fears Slammed the Market

The CEOs of Geo Group and Continental Resources bought stock.

Photograph by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak sent the market tumbling into correction territory at the end of February. But two CEOs scooped up millions of dollars of their respective companies stock on the open market.

George C. Zoley, chairman, CEO, and founder of Geo Group (ticker: GEO), paid $8.5 million over Feb. 24 and 26 for a total of 515,063 shares of the operator of correctional, detention, and re-entry facilities. Zoley paid an average per-share price of $16.58, which is 3 cents less than Geo stock’s 2019 closing price. He now owns 2.4 million Geo shares in a personal account, and another 400,000 shares of restricted stock.

In response to a request for comment from Zoley, he provided the statement: “My continued investment in Geo Group is indicative of my confidence in its management, generous dividend and future, as a service provider of essential government services in corrections and secure residential care.”

It’s Zoley’s first purchase of Geo Group stock since November 2018 when he paid $3.8 million over Nov. 9 through 21 for a total of 170,240 shares, an average price per share of $22.41.

Geo Group stock has come back a bit since, and as of Friday’s close sports a 1.0% gain for the year to date. Last year, despite having a champion in President Donald Trump, Geo Group stock slid 15.7% while the S&P 500 index, a proxy of the broader market, surged 28.9%. So far this year, the index has lost 8.0%.

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William Berry has been CEO of Continental Resources (CLR) only since Jan. 1, but under his short tenure, shares of the shale oil producer have been cut in half. Continental stock slumped 14.7% in 2019.

Berry paid $1.7 million on Feb. 28 for 90,000 Continental shares, an average price of $18.38 each. He now owns 931,301 shares, including 785,084 restricted shares that vest over the next three years.

Continental didn’t respond to a request to make Berry available for comment.

Berry last purchased Continental stock in December 2014, when he paid $603,060 for 15,000 shares, an average price of $40.20 each. At the time, Berry, a retired ConocoPhillips executive, was a Continental director.

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 and follow @BarronsEdLin.

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