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Is FBNC A Good Stock To Buy Now?

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Abigail Fisher
·6 min read
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The latest 13F reporting period has come and gone, and Insider Monkey is again at the forefront when it comes to making use of this gold mine of data. We have processed the filings of the more than 817 world-class investment firms that we track and now have access to the collective wisdom contained in these filings, which are based on their September 30 holdings, data that is available nowhere else. Should you consider First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) for your portfolio? We'll look to this invaluable collective wisdom for the answer.

Is FBNC a good stock to buy now? First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) has experienced an increase in support from the world's most elite money managers lately. First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) was in 19 hedge funds' portfolios at the end of the third quarter of 2020. The all time high for this statistic is 17. This means the bullish number of hedge fund positions in this stock currently sits at its all time high. There were 17 hedge funds in our database with FBNC positions at the end of the second quarter. Our calculations also showed that FBNC isn't among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q3 rankings and see the video for a quick look at the top 5 stocks).

Video: Watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.

To most traders, hedge funds are assumed to be slow, outdated investment vehicles of yesteryear. While there are over 8000 funds with their doors open today, We hone in on the masters of this club, approximately 850 funds. These hedge fund managers orchestrate bulk of the hedge fund industry's total capital, and by watching their first-class equity investments, Insider Monkey has found many investment strategies that have historically outstripped Mr. Market. Insider Monkey's flagship short hedge fund strategy surpassed the S&P 500 short ETFs by around 20 percentage points per annum since its inception in March 2017. Our portfolio of short stocks lost 13% since February 2017 (through November 17th) even though the market was up 65% during the same period. We just shared a list of 6 short targets in our latest quarterly update .

Anton Schutz of Mendon Capital Advisors

At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, Federal Reserve has been creating trillions of dollars electronically to keep the interest rates near zero. We believe this will lead to inflation and boost real estate prices. So, we recommended this real estate stock to our monthly premium newsletter subscribers. We go through lists like the 15 best blue chip stocks to pick the best large-cap stocks to buy. Even though we recommend positions in only a tiny fraction of the companies we analyze, we check out as many stocks as we can. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. You can subscribe to our free daily newsletter on our website. Now we're going to review the recent hedge fund action surrounding First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC).

Do Hedge Funds Think FBNC Is A Good Stock To Buy Now?

At the end of the third quarter, a total of 19 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey held long positions in this stock, a change of 12% from one quarter earlier. Below, you can check out the change in hedge fund sentiment towards FBNC over the last 21 quarters. So, let's see which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.

The largest stake in First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) was held by Renaissance Technologies, which reported holding $5.5 million worth of stock at the end of September. It was followed by Millennium Management with a $3.9 million position. Other investors bullish on the company included EJF Capital, Mendon Capital Advisors, and Basswood Capital. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position JCSD Capital allocated the biggest weight to First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC), around 2.81% of its 13F portfolio. Mendon Capital Advisors is also relatively very bullish on the stock, designating 1.62 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to FBNC.

Now, key hedge funds were breaking ground themselves. Marshall Wace LLP, managed by Paul Marshall and Ian Wace, created the most valuable position in First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC). Marshall Wace LLP had $0.3 million invested in the company at the end of the quarter. Paul Tudor Jones's Tudor Investment Corp also made a $0.3 million investment in the stock during the quarter. The other funds with brand new FBNC positions are Matthew Hulsizer's PEAK6 Capital Management and Gavin Saitowitz and Cisco J. del Valle's Prelude Capital (previously Springbok Capital).

Let's go over hedge fund activity in other stocks - not necessarily in the same industry as First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) but similarly valued. We will take a look at BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCRX), Zynex, Inc. (NASDAQ:ZYXI), Quanex Building Products Corporation (NYSE:NX), State Auto Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STFC), iClick Interactive Asia Group Limited (NASDAQ:ICLK), Relmada Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:RLMD), and Hanger, Inc. (NYSE:HNGR). This group of stocks' market values are similar to FBNC's market value.

[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position BCRX,22,156967,-4 ZYXI,10,14599,1 NX,16,59379,2 STFC,8,7154,2 ICLK,13,23328,9 RLMD,8,123424,-3 HNGR,14,57038,0 Average,13,63127,1 [/table]

View table here if you experience formatting issues.

As you can see these stocks had an average of 13 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $63 million. That figure was $31 million in FBNC's case. BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCRX) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand State Auto Financial Corporation (NASDAQ:STFC) is the least popular one with only 8 bullish hedge fund positions. First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FBNC) is not the most popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still above average. Our overall hedge fund sentiment score for FBNC is 76.3. Stocks with higher number of hedge fund positions relative to other stocks as well as relative to their historical range receive a higher sentiment score. Our calculations showed that top 20 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 41.3% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10 percentage points. These stocks gained 30.7% in 2020 through December 14th and still beat the market by 15.8 percentage points. Hedge funds were also right about betting on FBNC as the stock returned 59.6% since the end of Q3 (through 12/14) and outperformed the market. Hedge funds were rewarded for their relative bullishness.

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Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.

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