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Those who invested in First Bancorp (NASDAQ:FNLC) three years ago are up 31%

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Buying a low-cost index fund will get you the average market return. But across the board there are plenty of stocks that underperform the market. That's what has happened with the The First Bancorp, Inc. (NASDAQ:FNLC) share price. It's up 14% over three years, but that is below the market return. At least the stock price is up over the last year, albeit only by 4.8%.

So let's investigate and see if the longer term performance of the company has been in line with the underlying business' progress.

View our latest analysis for First Bancorp

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. By comparing earnings per share (EPS) and share price changes over time, we can get a feel for how investor attitudes to a company have morphed over time.

During three years of share price growth, First Bancorp achieved compound earnings per share growth of 14% per year. This EPS growth is higher than the 4% average annual increase in the share price. So it seems investors have become more cautious about the company, over time. We'd venture the lowish P/E ratio of 9.11 also reflects the negative sentiment around the stock.

The graphic below depicts how EPS has changed over time (unveil the exact values by clicking on the image).

earnings-per-share-growth
earnings-per-share-growth

We like that insiders have been buying shares in the last twelve months. Even so, future earnings will be far more important to whether current shareholders make money. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of First Bancorp's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. Arguably, the TSR gives a more comprehensive picture of the return generated by a stock. We note that for First Bancorp the TSR over the last 3 years was 31%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. This is largely a result of its dividend payments!

A Different Perspective

It's good to see that First Bancorp has rewarded shareholders with a total shareholder return of 9.3% in the last twelve months. And that does include the dividend. That gain is better than the annual TSR over five years, which is 7%. Therefore it seems like sentiment around the company has been positive lately. Someone with an optimistic perspective could view the recent improvement in TSR as indicating that the business itself is getting better with time. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.

First Bancorp is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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