Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Is Cree’s surging stock price a trick or treat for investors and its holders? Well, (Nasdaq: CREE) executives aren’t taking any chances, cashing in on the treat of 52-week highs for their shares.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chuck Swoboda led the way, selling more than 400,000 shares worth a cool $18 million, according to reported at Yahoo! Finance and based on SEC filings.

Talk about going green – this is capitalism at its best cashing in on energy-conserving technology.

All the action leaves Swoboda with 231,314 shares as of Oct. 23, the data shows.

Right behind him in selling were Chief Financial Officer John Kurtzweil and John Palmour, a company co-founder and the head of advanced devices.

Palmour sold 150,00 shares worth more than $6 million.

Kurtzweil sold 12,000 shares.

The three also exercised options and sold stock in September.

Last week as Cree hit $46.25 and touted strong earnings, one analyst kept a “hold” rating on the stock. “While (second-quarter) guidance was better than most of the Street expected, we recommend that investors wait on the sidelines until we have better visibility on the impact from government funding for efficiency and infrastructure projects," said Daniel Amir at Lazard Capital Markets.

Hard to believe that within the past year Cree shares sold for as little as $12.57.

However, Cree is in a sweet spot – demand for light emitting diodes and LED-based fixtures is soaring worldwide. Cree invested heavily in a “play” for the emerging green market. The strategy, directed by Swoboda, is paying dividends and Cree soon will be adding more jobs in the Triangle as a result.

Cree executives also aren’t alone in cashing out shares. Red Hat stock is way, way up this year, too, and some execs have sold some holdings.

Not all the transactions were huge money makers for the Cree execs, however.

Swoboda exercised options on 39,339 shares at $41.97 on oct. 23 and 356,661 shares at between $25.47 and $41.97 on Oct. 22.

Kurtzweil exercised 10,000 shares at $20.50 on the 22nd.

Palmour exercised 100,000 shares at $41.97 on the 22nd.

So, what did you do with your Cree shares?

By the way, Cree closed at $43.56 Tuesday.

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