Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. ATD-T chief executive officer Brian Hannasch earned an estimated profit of almost $132-million by selling $172-million worth of shares in the company over the past 11 months, reaping the rewards of steering the convenience store company through a decade of stock market success.
Just under $95-million of those sales came over 16 days in mid-January of this year.
Mr. Hannasch, who joined Couche-Tard more than two decades ago after a 12-year stint at oil company Amoco, will observe his 10-year anniversary in the CEO job in September. The former chief operating officer of the Circle K division of Couche-Tard, Mr. Hannasch works from Columbus, Ind.
“We do not comment on the personal stock trades of our executives other than to say that Mr. Hannasch continues to hold a substantial investment in Couche-Tard that exceeds the Shareholding Guidelines established by the Board of directors,” Couche-Tard spokesman Amine Ndamama said in an e-mail to The Globe.
Since his first day as CEO in September, 2014, Couche-Tard stock is up 372.4 per cent, ranking it 16th of the 190 stocks in the S&P/TSX Composite Index that have traded continuously since then, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Mr. Hannasch’s stock sales over the past year are his first since 2020, and represent a cash-out for many years of work.
Until March 29, 2023, he hadn’t exercised any of the 2,162,437 stock options Couche-Tard had awarded him since he became CEO.
Since March of last year, however, he has exercised all the 1,753,082 options Couche-Tard gave him in the six years from 2014 to 2019. Some of those options were scheduled to expire later this year, making their use timely. But others didn’t expire until 2029.
He now holds 435,021 options worth about $11.5-million at current prices for Couche-Tard stock.
In the transactions over the past 11 months, Mr. Hannasch sold another 510,885 shares he owned outright from exercising options prior to 2023. In 2020, stock records show, he exercised hundreds of thousands of options at $3.09 per share.
The sales over the past 11 months have added to the wealth Mr. Hannasch has accumulated from Couche-Tard stock. Trading records indicate that, from 2004 to 2020, he sold 1,271,578 shares for $63.5-million. During that time, he exercised 1,615,000 options for $9.6-million.
Mr. Hannasch’s stock-sale numbers come from a Globe and Mail review of more than two decades’ worth of insider-transaction records in the database maintained by Canadian securities regulators. The Globe converted sales denominated in U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars at current exchange rates.
Thanks to Mr. Hannasch’s recent sales, Couche-Tard insiders rank as the biggest sellers of their company’s stock in Canada in the past two months, according to INK Research. The firm tracks these sales on the premise they offer insight into sentiment for a stock’s prospects.
As of INK’s Feb. 5 report, Couche-Tard ranked first among Canadian companies for “net selling,” a measure of proceeds of stock sales, offset by any insider purchases. Couche-Tard had $111.2-million in net selling in the past 60 days, INK Research said.
Alain Bouchard, Mr. Hannasch’s predecessor as CEO, started the chain with just one store in 1980. In 1986, a predecessor of Couche-Tard completed an initial public offering. In 1994, that company’s majority shareholder, publicly traded Actidev Inc., privatized it and changed its corporate name to Alimentation Couche-Tard.
Over the course of its history, Couche-Tard has combined internal sales growth with an aggressive acquisition plan. After a series of Canadian deals, it moved into the United States in 2002 and 2003 by buying 404 Daily Mart stores and acquiring Circle K, with 2,290 stores, from ConocoPhillips Co. COP-N Acquisitions in Europe and Asia followed.
The company now has 14,400 stores, about 128,000 workers and a market capitalization around $75-billion. Over the 12 months to last Oct. 15, Couche-Tard recorded $93.4-billion in sales and net income of $4.2-billion.
That incredible growth has made billionaires of its four founders - Mr. Bouchard, Richard Fortin, Réal Plourde and Jacques D’Amours. Combined, the four own about 24 per cent of the company, worth just under $19-billion.