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Exact Sciences, which operates a laboratory at 145 E. Badger Road, invented Cologuard, a non-invasive, DNA-based colorectal cancer screening test. 

COURTESY OF EXACT SCIENCES

Three top executives of Exact Sciences Corp. have sold $31.4 million worth of company stock over a three-month period, from Sept. 5 through Dec. 1.

CEO and chairman Kevin Conroy accounts for more than half of that — $16.1 million.

Conroy’s sales — cashing in stock options that were granted to him in 2009 and expire in 2019 — were not unexpected, and they have not hurt the price of the publicly traded company’s stock.

Exact, whose shares are sold on the Nasdaq market, is developing products to test for a variety of cancers. Its Cologuard DNA stool test for colorectal cancer has been on the market since late 2014 and is expected to bring the company more than $250 million in revenue in 2017.

Conroy sold a total of more than a quarter of a million shares — 271,862 — in transactions on Nov. 9 and Nov. 21, that netted him $15.9 million.

The move stems from the compensation package offered to Conroy in March 2009 when he was named president and CEO of Exact Sciences. It included options to buy 2.5 million shares at 83 cents a share — the stock’s closing price as of March 18, 2009 — to be exercised over 10 years.

Exact filed a notice with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 21, 2017, saying Conroy had “entered into a pre-arranged, written stock trading plan” to exercise those options before they expire in 2019.

More than 1 million shares had yet to be accessed from that options award, the filing said, and Conroy planned to sell them “in an orderly manner, based on a predetermined formula,” between November 2017 and April 2018 and to use the proceeds “for financial planning purposes.” He will still own more than 1.7 million shares when the sales are complete, the document said.

Exact’s chief science officer and senior vice president Graham Lidgard also has sold a large quantity of stock from exercising options: 248,258 shares, in several transactions between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, worth a total of $11.3 million. Lidgard paid between $5.70 and $23.38 to turn each option into a share and received net proceeds of $9.5 million from the stock sales, according to data from FactSet Research Systems, reported by MarketWatch.

In addition, Lidgard sold 45,770 shares on Dec. 1 that did not come from options, valued at $2.66 million. From all of his transactions over the three month period, Lidgard netted a total of $12.17 million.

Scott Coward, general counsel and senior vice president, sold 29,115 shares of stock in October, and received $1.37 million, according to documents filed with federal regulators.

Notes on the SEC filings explain that most of Lidgard’s and Coward’s transactions were part of stock trading plans adopted in August that involved selling a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time.

Exact’s stock hovered in the upper $50 range for most of November, hitting an all-time high of $63.60 during the day’s trading on Nov. 8, 2017 — more than four times its level a year ago.

Since the beginning of December, it has traded in the mid-$50 range.

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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.