On September 8 James Murren, CEO of MGM Resorts International-- owners of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino-- sold over 80% of his stock shares. Just three weeks later, the deadliest mass shooting in the modern history of the United States would unfold from within a room on the hotel's 32nd floor.
Was it a mere coincidence? ESP? Or is there a more sinister explanation?
According to the Ledger Gazette, Murren dumped 294,150 shares of MGM Resorts International stock on Friday, September 8, at a price of $34.08 per share. Murren pocketed $10,024,632 from the deal, while holding onto 71,442 shares of the company. Prior to the October 1 massacre, those shares had a combined value of $2,434,743. As of today, those same shares are now worth a mere $29.44 each.
In other words, if Murren had not dumped his stock shortly before Stephen Paddock opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers from inside his room at Mandalay Bay, he would've stood to lose approximately $1.7 million dollars. But he managed to prevent that from happening by parting ways with 80% of the stock he had worked so diligently to accrue.
Either James Murren is a freaking prophet with the ability to forecast the future, or he had foreknowledge of what was about to happen.
But then again, it could all be a coincidence. Just a huge, ten-million-dollar coincidence.
Financial records indicate that Murren began selling off his MGM Resorts International stock as early as July 31, when he decided to capitalize on the $33.05 stock value by dumping 57,269 shares. Murren earned nearly $1.9 million from that transaction.
On August 9, Murren once again sold the same number of shares-- 57,269-- earning him $1.8 million (the shares were sold at an average price of $31.54).
But then, on September 7, something changed, inspiring Murren to dump 259,760 shares. By this time, the value of the stock had increased to 34.19 per share. By selling those shares, Murren raked in $8,881,194.40.
But why did he decide to dump such a large number of shares on that particular day?
The price of each share was going up, and earnings reports indicated that the future was looking bright; MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 27th and reported $0.31 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate by $0.03. The company's quarterly revenue was up 16.4% compared to the same quarter last year.
So what inspired James Murren to say to himself, "The value of this goddamn stock keeps going up! And we're doing better than we were doing at this time last year. Ugh, I better sell this shit off ASAP!"
According to the Ledger Gazette, most research analysts had rated MGM Resorts stock as "buy" rather than sell. Deutsche Bank AG downgraded shares of MGM Resorts International from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating. Telsey Advisory Group and UBS AG both issued a “buy” rating. In fact, only one research analyst firm-- Zacks Investment Research-- had issued a "sell" rating.
With virtually every top financial expert in the world proclaiming that it was a bad time for investors to sell off their MGM Resorts International stock, James Murren decided to ignore their advice and sell his stock anyway. And, boy, he sold a ton of it.
So what exactly did James Murren know and when did he know it?