First Bancorp (FBNC) stock starts with “Overweight” rating in note to investors by Piper Jaffray Cos.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) shares rose on Thursday Nov 17 with lighter trade volume than normal after more analysts initiated coverage on the stock.

Meanwhile, stocks opened flat this morning, struggling for direction in early trade ahead of congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen. Ahead of an appearance before the Joint Economic Committee, Yellen said an interest-rate hike could come “relatively soon,”

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.25% fell less than 0.1% to 2,176.85 while Dow Industrials DJIA, -0.05% fell 9 points to 18,858. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.18% declined 0.1% to 5,291.48.

Analysts at Piper Jaffray Cos. initiated coverage on First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) stock, starting the company at Overweight. Piper Jaffray Cos. currently has a rating of Overweight on the stock. The one-year price target of $23.75 is higher than the opening price of $22.20, that has caused a number of other analysts to issue statements on the stock in recent days. Looking back over the last year, First Bancorp stock has a high of $22.41. Analysts and brokerage firms will subsequently re periodic updates after initiating coverage,. Changes in price targets are not uncommon.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) shares last traded at $22.41, which is a jump of $0.20 or 0.90% from the previous closing price. Opening at $22.20, they fluctuated from $22.19 and $22.41 throughout the day.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) now has a market cap of 450.87B.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) Average Daily Trading Volume

13,775 shares traded hands yesterday, lower than normal, out of a total float 18,349,000. Momentum traders often use upticks in trading volume to determine large volume accumulation or distribution by institutional investors, so look for trading volume to pick up in the coming days.

As with all potential breakouts, investors look for volume to be at least 40%-50% above normal on the breakout to indicate that fund managers and other professional investors are jumping in.

Institutional sponsorship just refers to ownership of a stock by mutual funds, banks, pension funds and other large institutions.

Professional investors such as these have teams of analysts that investigate thousands of stocks. Thus, watching their interests is a good way to ensure you are buying the right stocks.

First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) Moving Averages

A moving average can also act as support or resistance. In an uptrend a 50-day, 100-day or 200-day moving average may act as a support level, as shown in the figure below.

This is because the average acts like a floor (support), so the price bounces up off of it.

In a downtrend a moving average may act as resistance; like a ceiling, the price hits it and then starts to drop again.

Traders can make educated trades when they follow the activity of professional investors.

Trades for First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) have ranged from $17.15 – 22.41, and the stock now has a 50-day MA of $20.22 and 200-day MA of $19.41. Today’s last price is the highest it’s been for the past 52 weeks.

Earnings growth is a crucial factor to consider when investing in stocks and investors identify companies that have raised their earnings at least 25% or more over a 3 year period.

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