First Acceptance investor buys $1M of stock

Former chairman stepped down last month

The largest investor in First Acceptance has spent $1 million of his money to ramp up his stake in the auto insurer — three weeks after he stepped down as chairman of the company.

Texas-based Gerald Ford, whose Liberté Investors vehicle merged with First Acceptance eight years ago, last week spent almost $1.1 million to buy more than 1 million First Acceptance shares through a trust he controls. The move lifted his stake in the Green Hills-based company to 31.6 percent and comes after Ford stepped down from his board seat to make way for his son, Jeremy.

Shares of First Acceptance (Ticker: FAC) have lost more than a third of their value this year, falling to nearly $1 per share, as CEO Stephen Harrison and his team have continued to trim their store network and implement a new pricing plan. (Ford's big purchase came at its all-time low last Wednesday of $1.05, as did a smaller buy from director Rhodes Bobbitt.) In the past three years, the stock has fallen 62 percent, slicing its market value to about $55 million, less than a third of First Acceptance's fiscal 2011 sales.