First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) Short Interest Up 37.1% in September

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First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) saw a large growth in short interest in September. As of September 30th, there was short interest totalling 549,300 shares, a growth of 37.1% from the September 15th total of 400,600 shares. Currently, 1.9% of the shares of the company are sold short. Based on an average daily volume of 157,500 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 3.5 days.

In other news, Director James C. Crawford III acquired 2,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, September 23rd. The shares were bought at an average price of $20.71 per share, with a total value of $51,775.00. Following the acquisition, the director now owns 68,348 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,415,487.08. The acquisition was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. 2.37% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in FBNC. JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised its position in shares of First Bancorp by 12.1% during the first quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 102,702 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $2,370,000 after acquiring an additional 11,123 shares during the last quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA raised its position in shares of First Bancorp by 163.9% during the first quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 9,159 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $211,000 after acquiring an additional 5,689 shares during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of First Bancorp by 8.8% during the first quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 451,198 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $10,413,000 after acquiring an additional 36,308 shares during the last quarter. Eaton Vance Management raised its position in shares of First Bancorp by 107.0% during the first quarter. Eaton Vance Management now owns 26,462 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $611,000 after acquiring an additional 13,677 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Two Sigma Advisers LP raised its position in shares of First Bancorp by 14.0% during the first quarter. Two Sigma Advisers LP now owns 25,207 shares of the financial services provider’s stock worth $582,000 after acquiring an additional 3,100 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 67.86% of the company’s stock.

Several research firms recently commented on FBNC. Piper Sandler cut their target price on First Bancorp from $26.00 to $25.00 and set a “neutral” rating for the company in a research report on Friday, July 24th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded First Bancorp from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, September 23rd. ValuEngine upgraded First Bancorp from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 1st. Finally, DA Davidson upgraded First Bancorp from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Tuesday, September 15th. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Bancorp currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $37.33.

FBNC traded up $0.13 during trading on Friday, hitting $22.82. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 77,850 shares, compared to its average volume of 126,017. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $21.26 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $22.70. The company has a quick ratio of 0.93, a current ratio of 0.94 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.13. First Bancorp has a 12 month low of $17.32 and a 12 month high of $41.34. The stock has a market capitalization of $661.26 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.36, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.27 and a beta of 1.16.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 23rd. The financial services provider reported $0.56 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.16 by $0.40. First Bancorp had a return on equity of 8.67% and a net margin of 25.52%. The firm had revenue of $78.82 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $67.34 million. On average, sell-side analysts forecast that First Bancorp will post 1.9 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, October 23rd. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, September 30th will be given a $0.18 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, September 29th. This represents a $0.72 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.16%. First Bancorp’s payout ratio is 23.23%.

About First Bancorp

First Bancorp operates as the bank holding company for First Bank that provides banking products and services for individuals and small to medium-sized businesses primarily in North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. It accepts deposit products, such as checking, savings, and money market accounts, as well as time deposits, including certificates of deposit and individual retirement accounts.

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