On Nov 29,
) touched a 52-week high of $17.39. The momentum was driven by
sustained solid results at First Bancorp and an impressive
inorganic growth story.
First Bancorp delivered positive earnings surprises in three of
the last four quarters with an average beat of 11.8%. In the last
reported quarter, First Bancorp posted impressive results
delivering a positive earnings surprise of 20.0%. Earnings also
fared well year over year. The better-than-expected results were
primarily driven by lower level of foreclosed property losses and
write-downs reported during 2013.
Improving provision for loan losses on non-covered loans, surging
total non-interest income and strong capital position were the
other positives for the company.
First Bancorp also completed the previously declared acquisition
of the two branches Four Oaks Banks and & Trust Company,
which generated additional $16 million of loans and $57 million
of deposits for First Bancorp.
These positives led the company to witness rising estimates. The
Zacks Consensus Estimate moved north by 9.9% to $1.00 per share
over the last 60 days, as most of the estimates were revised
upward. For 2014, the Zacks Consensus Estimate soared 19.6% to
$1.22 per share over the same time period.
However, valuation for First Bancorp looks stretched. The shares
are trading at a discount to the peer group average on a
price-to-book basis but on a slight premium on forward
price-to-earnings basis. Return on equity is negative compared
with positive return of the peer group. Nonetheless, the 1-year
return from the stock came in at 53.3%, above the NASDAQ's return
First Bancorp presently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some other
stocks worth considering in the financial sector include
American National Bankshares Inc.
First NBC Bank Holding Company
). While American National and First NBC sport a Zacks Rank #1
(Strong Buy), BNC Bancorp carries the same Zacks Rank as First
AMER NATL BNKSH (AMNB): Free Stock Analysis
BNC BANCORP (BNCN): Free Stock Analysis
FIRST BCP-NC (FBNC): Free Stock Analysis
FIRST NBC BANK (NBCB): Free Stock Analysis
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