WHSmith directors yesterday sold further tranches of optioned shares – the second round of such disposals in a week.

Chief executive Kate Swann, finance supremo Robert Moorhead, travel boss Simon Marinker, strategy director Neil Monnery and high street boss Steve Clarke offloaded incentive plan shares.

Pali International analyst Nick Bubb said investors should not be worried by the selling.

He said: “The explanation is perfectly innocent. The directors are selling only enough shares to pay the income tax that they have become liable to on the vesting of the final tranche of the shares.

“The directors, including the highly rated Kate Swann, have retained the balance of their share options and have a strong incentive to keep on delivering the goods.”

Bubb was pleased by WHSmith’s exclusive deal this week to run specialist bookstores in BAA UK airports and increased his target price for the retailer from 370p to 390p.