First Bancorp (FBNC) Hits New 52-Week High Following Analyst Upgrade

First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) shares reached a new 52-week high during trading on Wednesday after Brean Capital raised their price target on the stock from $39.00 to $35.00. Brean Capital currently has a buy rating on the stock. First Bancorp traded as high as $36.33 and last traded at $36.36, with a volume of 139,412 shares trading hands. The stock had previously closed at $35.08.

Several other analysts have also issued reports on FBNC. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Bancorp from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $36.00 price target for the company in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. Piper Jaffray Companies restated an “overweight” rating and set a $37.00 price target on shares of First Bancorp in a research report on Thursday, October 5th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Bancorp from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, July 28th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $36.25.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of FBNC. Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc. purchased a new stake in First Bancorp during the second quarter valued at about $100,000. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA boosted its position in First Bancorp by 1,207.2% during the second quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 3,268 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $102,000 after buying an additional 3,018 shares during the period. IFP Advisors Inc boosted its position in First Bancorp by 250.9% during the second quarter. IFP Advisors Inc now owns 3,513 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $110,000 after buying an additional 2,512 shares during the period. Captrust Financial Advisors purchased a new stake in First Bancorp during the second quarter valued at about $146,000. Finally, Legal & General Group Plc boosted its position in First Bancorp by 23.1% during the second quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 5,790 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $180,000 after buying an additional 1,085 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 66.07% of the company’s stock.

The stock’s 50 day moving average is $33.78 and its 200-day moving average is $31.18. The firm has a market capitalization of $905.93 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 25.58 and a beta of 1.13.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 25th. The financial services provider reported $0.45 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.43 by $0.02. First Bancorp had a net margin of 17.52% and a return on equity of 7.77%. The firm had revenue of $51.79 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $49.49 million. Equities research analysts anticipate that First Bancorp will post $1.94 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Wednesday, October 25th. Investors of record on Friday, September 29th were paid a dividend of $0.08 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, September 28th. This represents a $0.32 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 0.87%. First Bancorp’s dividend payout ratio is presently 22.54%.

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About First Bancorp

First Bancorp is the bank holding company for First Bank (the Bank). The Company’s principal activity is the ownership and operation of First Bank. The Bank engages in a range of banking activities, including the acceptance of deposits and the making of loans. The Bank offers credit cards, debit cards, letters of credit, safe deposit box rentals and electronic funds transfer services, including wire transfers.

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