Insider Transactions is a weekly report of stock transactions involving officers and directors of publicly owned local companies.

Stock trading by corporate insiders often is a bellwether of corporate health. Most insiders buy stock or exercise options to make a profit. And insiders may be selling stock for tax reasons, estate planning or cash needs.

The following insider transactions involving local companies were compiled by States News Service from reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

ETHYLCORP.

Barry B. Abrahamson, a vice president of Richmond-based Ethyl Corp., disposed of 10,000 common shares in an open-market sale Dec. 31. Abrahamson currently holds 27,000 common shares directly and 7,080 common shares indirectly.

GANNETT CO. INC.

Madelyn P.M. Jennings, a vice president of Gannett of Arlington, acquired 4,500 company common shares in the exercise of an option Jan. 25. Jennings currently owns 31,125 common shares directly.

HARMAN INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIES

Donald J. Esters, president of Washington-based Harman, acquired 5,000 company common shares in an open-market purchase Nov. 3. Esters now holds 130,000 common shares directly.

HECHINGER CO.

W. Clark McClelland, an officer and a director of Hechinger of Landover, sold 1,000 shares of the company's class B common stock in an open-market transaction Jan. 4. McClelland currently holds 1,592 class B common shares directly.

MANOR CARE

Weldon Humphries, a vice president of Manor Care of Silver Spring, exercised an option to acquire 2,250 company common shares Dec. 31. Humphries currently owns 84,283 common shares directly.

MARRIOTT

Paul T. Reed, a shareholder of Bethesda-based Marriott, disposed of 15,000 company common shares on the open-market Jan. 21. Reed holds 10,722 common shares directly.

Company officer Daniel J. Altobello disposed of 2,000 common shares Jan. 4 and now holds 16,000 common shares indirectly.

ROUSE CO.

George L. Yungman, a vice president of Rouse of Columbia, Md., exercised an option to acquire 8,500 company common shares Jan. 5. Yungman currently holds 58,767 common shares directly.

SMITHFIELD FOODS

Aaron D. Trub, an officer and a director of Smithfield Foods of Smithfield, Va., acquired 2,000 company common shares through the exercise of an option Jan. 4. Trub now holds 47,983 common shares directly.

VIE DE FRANCE

Food Research Corp., a major shareholder of Vie de France of McLean, purchased 2,934 Vie de France common shares on the open market between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. Food Research currently owns 3.82 million common shares directly and 3.82 million common shares indirectly.

GMP International Foods Inc., also a major company shareholder, purchased 2,933 common shares on the open market between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4. GMP has 2.05 million common shares directly and 1.86 million common shares indirectly.

WASHINGTON HOMES

Edith A. Deal, a vice president of Waldorf-based Washington Homes, acquired 500 company common shares through the exercise of an option Jan. 26. Deal currently holds 3,000 common shares directly.

THE WASHINGTON POST CO.

Alan R. Finberg, a vice president of The Washington Post Co., sold 8,700 shares of the company's class B common stock on the open market between Jan. 7 and Jan. 29. Finberg now holds 15,511 class B common shares directly.