The most recent short interest data was recently released by the NASDAQ for the 08/15/2014 settlement date, and First Bancorp ( FBNC) is one of the most shorted stocks of the Russell 3000, based on 14.51 "days to cover" versus the median component at 6.14. There are a number of ways to look at short data, but one metric that we find particularly useful is the "days to cover" because it considers both the total shares short and the average daily volume of shares typically traded. The number of shares short is then divided by the average daily volume, to express the total number of trading days it would take to close out all of the open short positions if every share traded represented a short position being closed.In the case of First Bancorp ( FBNC), the total short interest at the 08/15/2014 settlement date was 352,410 shares, which compares to the average daily trading volume of just 24,294 shares, for a "days to cover" ratio of 14.51. When short sellers eventually cover their positions, by definition there must be buying activity because a share that is currently sold short must be purchased to be covered. At the present levels of short interest, if from this point forward every single FBNC share traded represented a short position being closed, then at the average daily volume of 24,294 shares it would only be during the 15th trading day that every short position would be closed.
So it would stand to reason that should some unexpectedly good news come out, and short sellers did not have 15 days of patience but instead wanted to cover their short positions very suddenly, that situation could result in sending the stock higher until the higher price produces enough sellers to generate the necessary volume to close out those positions quickly.First Bancorp ( FBNC) has something relatively rare for a stock with this much short interest, that being insiders taking the other side of the trade. Looking back over the trailing six month period, FBNC has seen 3 different instances of insider buying, as summarized by the table below:
|03/13/2014||Michael Goodwin Mayer||President||100||$19.20||$1,920.00|
|03/17/2014||Edward Francis Soccorso III||EVP||1,000||$19.05||$19,050.00|
|03/24/2014||Michael Goodwin Mayer||President||100||$18.80||$1,880.00|
|03/26/2014||Richard H. Moore||Chief Executive Officer||2,600||$19.13||$49,746.78|
|05/06/2014||Michael Goodwin Mayer||President||500||$17.50||$8,750.00|
|08/04/2014||Richard H. Moore||Chief Executive Officer||4,640||$16.17||$75,028.80|
And looking at the chart below, FBNC's low point in its 52 week range is $13.55 per share, with $19.65 as the 52 week high point — that compares with a last trade of $17.29. In recent trading, shares of First Bancorp ( FBNC) were changing hands at $17.29/share.