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Does First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) Deserve A Spot On Your Watchlist?

Simply Wall St

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For beginners, it can seem like a good idea (and an exciting prospect) to buy a company that tells a good story to investors, even if it completely lacks a track record of revenue and profit. And in . found that it is 'quite common' for investors to lose money by buying into 'pump and dump' schemes.

If, on the other hand, you like companies that have revenue, and even earn profits, then you may well be interested in First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC). While profit is not necessarily a social good, it's easy to admire a business than can consistently produce it. Conversely, a loss-making company is yet to prove itself with profit, and eventually the sweet milk of external capital may run sour.

View our latest analysis for First Bancorp

How Quickly Is First Bancorp Increasing Earnings Per Share?

If a company can keep growing earnings per share (EPS) long enough, its share price will eventually follow. That means EPS growth is considered a real positive by most successful long-term investors. It certainly is nice to see that First Bancorp has managed to grow EPS by 32% per year over three years. As a general rule, we'd say that if a company can keep up that sort of growth, shareholders will be smiling.

Careful consideration of revenue growth and earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) margins can help inform a view on the sustainability of the recent profit growth. Not all of First Bancorp's revenue this year is revenue from operations, so keep in mind the revenue and margin numbers I've used might not be the best representation of the underlying business. While we note First Bancorp's EBIT margins were flat over the last year, revenue grew by a solid 13% to US$270m. That's progress.

You can take a look at the company's revenue and earnings growth trend, in the chart below. For finer detail, click on the image.

NasdaqGS:FBNC Income Statement, May 13th 2019

While we live in the present moment at all times, there's no doubt in my mind that the future matters more than the past. So why not check this interactive chart depicting future EPS estimates, for First Bancorp?

Are First Bancorp Insiders Aligned With All Shareholders?

Like the kids in the streets standing up for their beliefs, insider share purchases give me reason to believe in a brighter future. This view is based on the possibility that stock purchases signal bullishness on behalf of the buyer. Of course, we can never be sure what insiders are thinking, we can only judge their actions.

In the last year insider at First Bancorp were both selling and buying shares; but happily, as a group they spent US$166k more on stock, than they netted from selling it. On balance, that's a good sign. We also note that it was the , Suzanne DeFerie, who made the biggest single acquisition, paying US$199k for shares at about US$39.80 each.

On top of the insider buying, it's good to see that First Bancorp insiders have a valuable investment in the business. Indeed, they hold US$27m worth of its stock. That shows significant buy-in, and may indicate conviction in the business strategy. Even though that's only about 2.4% of the company, it's enough money to indicate alignment between the leaders of the business and ordinary shareholders.

While insiders are apparently happy to hold and accumulate shares, that is just part of the pretty picture. The cherry on top is that the CEO, Richard Moore is paid comparatively modestly to CEOs at similar sized companies. For companies with market capitalizations between US$400m and US$1.6b, like First Bancorp, the median CEO pay is around US$2.6m.

The CEO of First Bancorp only received US$1.2m in total compensation for the year ending December 2018. That looks like modest pay to me, and may hint at a certain respect for the interests of shareholders. CEO remuneration levels are not the most important metric for investors, but when the pay is modest, that does support enhanced alignment between the CEO and the ordinary shareholders. It can also be a sign of a culture of integrity, in a broader sense.

Should You Add First Bancorp To Your Watchlist?

You can't deny that First Bancorp has grown its earnings per share at a very impressive rate. That's attractive. On top of that, insiders own a significant stake in the company and have been buying more shares. So I do think this is one stock worth watching. While we've looked at the quality of the earnings, we haven't yet done any work to value the stock. So if you like to buy cheap, you may want to check if First Bancorp is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

There are plenty of other companies that have insiders buying up shares. So if you like the sound of First Bancorp, you'll probably love this free list of growing companies that insiders are buying.

Please note the insider transactions discussed in this article refer to reportable transactions in the relevant jurisdiction

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.