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 companies in the Washington, Baltimore and Richmond areas were compiled by from reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission. AMERICAN CAPITAL RESEARCH CORP. William C. Stitt, president of American Capital Research Corp. of Fairfax, disposed of 16,914 class A common shares from Nov. 14 to Nov. 28 for undisclosed prices. He holds one class A share directly and 2.8 million class A shares indirectly.

James O. Edwards, an officer and director, disposed of 16,914 class A common shares from Nov. 14 to Nov. 28 for undisclosed prices. He holds 85,001 shares directly and 2.8 million shares indirectly. BALTIMORE BANCORP. Robert F. Comstock, a director of Baltimore Bancorp, bought 5,000 common shares of the Baltimore-based company Nov. 16 at $4.88 each. Comstock controls 25,500 shares directly.

Director Rodney G. Stieff purchased 1,000 shares Nov 27 at $4.25 each and holds 5,100 shares directly and 200 shares indirectly.BANK MARYLAND CORP. Clarke Langrall, a director of Bank Maryland Corp. of Towson, Md., sold 2,500 common shares Oct. 15 for $4 each. He owns 10,614 shares directly and 4,620 shares indirectly.ESSEX CORP. Harry Leetaw Jr., chairman of Essex Corp. of Alexandria, bought 4,000 common shares Dec. 7 at $1.35 each. He holds 57,348 shares directly and 200 shares indirectly. FCNB CORP. Jacob R. Ramsburg, a director of Frederick-based FCNB Corp., acquired 5,000 common shares Nov. 21 at $19 each. He holds 46,946 shares directly and 22,007 shares indirectly. HEILIG-MEYERS CO. Krumbein Foundation, a beneficial owner of Heilig-Meyers Co. of Richmond, bought 3,000 common shares Oct. 31 for $16.38 a share. The foundation owns 3,000 shares indirectly.LAFARGE CORP. Lafarge Coppee S.A., a beneficial owner of Lafarge Corp. of Reston, made a stock-plan purchase of 238,081 common shares Nov. 8 for $11.25 each. Lafarge Coppee holds 28.5 million shares directly and 30,017 shares indirectly.

Lafarge Holdings, a beneficial owner, bought 218,148 shares through a stock plan Nov. 8 for $11.25 each. Lafarge Holdings owns more than 26 million shares directly and more than 20 million shares indirectly.LIFE TECHNOLOGIES INC. Thomas M. Coutts, an officer of Life Technologies Inc. of Gaithersburg, sold his entire 10,188-common share stake in the company Nov. 16 at $17.50 to $18 a share.MALLARD COACH CO. Sangwoo Ahn, a director of Mallard Coach Co. in Glen Allen, Md., purchased 5,000 common shares Dec. 6 for $2.25 each. Ahn holds 47,000 shares directly and 1.12 million shares indirectly.MARYLAND FEDERAL BANCORP INC. William C. Draper, an officer of a subsidiary of Maryland Federal Bancorp Inc. of Hyattsville, bought 1,000 common shares Nov. 2 for $5.25 each. Draper controls 6,579 shares directly and 1,257 shares indirectly. MCI COMMUNICATIONS CORP. Clarence B. Rogers Jr., a director of Washington-based MCI Communications Corp., bought 2,000 common shares Dec. 11 at $20.38 each. He holds 4,500 shares directly.NOVA PHARMACEUTICAL CORP. Donald G. Stark, a director of Nova Pharmaceutical Corp. of Baltimore, gave 20,400 common shares as a gift Nov. 16. He holds 394,900 shares directly.O'SULLIVAN CORP. Max C. Chapman Jr., a shareholder of O'Sullivan Corp. in Winchester, Va., bought 4,000 common shares from Nov. 20 to Nov. 27 at $8.50 to $8.63 each. Chapman holds 27,702 shares directly.PERPETUAL FINANCIAL CORP. Vernon W. Holleman, a director of Vienna-based Perpetual Financial Corp., bought 17,518 common shares Nov. 29 at 75 cents a share. Holleman holds 35,036 shares directly and 43,850 shares indirectly.RYLAND GROUP INC. Thomas H. Potts, an officer of Ryland Group Inc. of Columbia, Md., sold 4,410 common shares from Nov. 20 to Nov. 29 at $11.13 to $11.63 each. He holds 3,000 shares directly and 17,178 shares indirectly. SIGNET BANKING CORP. Morton K. Blaustein, a director of Richmond-based Signet Banking Corp., bought 10,000 common shares from Nov. 15 to Nov. 27 at $9.63 to $10 each. Blaustein controls 133,977 shares directly and 830,115 shares indirectly. THE WASHINGTON POST CO. Donald E. Graham, an officer and director of The Washington Post Co., gave a gift of 5,000 class B common shares Nov. 13. Graham holds 814 class B shares directly and 902,424 class B shares indirectly.