Bill Gates sold the shares of AutoNation. The car dealer’s shares were skyrocketing.

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Bill Gates cut his investment in AutoNation by about $ 78 million in stock. He remains the main shareholder of the car dealership.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Bill Gates reduced a position in


AutoNation
,

although it remains the largest shareholder of the car dealership.

AutoNation stock (ticker: AN) has jumped over 70% so far this year, far surpassing the


S & P500 Index.

Demand was high for cars, boosting AutoNation’s stock. On September 21, the retailer named Mike Manley as the new CEO.

Days later, September 24-29, Gates sold 622,880 AutoNation shares for $ 78 million, an average price per share of $ 125.30. According to forms he filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the transaction was completed through his investment vehicle, Cascade Investment, which now owns 11.5 million AutoNation shares.

Cascade did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, in connection with his divorce, Gates, co-founder of


Microsoft

(MSFT), transferred shares, including shares of AutoNation, to his former wife, Melinda French Gates.

Morgan Stanley analysts switched AutoNation stock to Buy after Manley’s CEO was appointed and raised the price target to $ 116 from $ 70. “Our new goal reflects the potential of [AutoNation] to be a stronger player in the new mobility ecosystem, ”the analysts wrote in a report. But the higher price target is lower than where AutoNation stock was trading last week, when it set a record price.

Glenn Chin of Seaport Research Partners maintained a neutral rating on AutoNation following the CEO’s announcement. Despite the note, “we believe the bias is on the rise,” Chin wrote.

Inside Scoop is a regular Barron column that covers the stock transactions of corporate executives and board members (called insiders), as well as major shareholders, politicians and other prominent figures. Due to their insider status, these investors are required to disclose stock transactions to the Securities and Exchange Commission or other regulatory bodies.

Write to Ed Lin at [email protected] and follow @BarronsEdLin.

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