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3 Reasons Why Growth Investors Shouldn't Overlook First Bancorp (FBP)

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Investors seek growth stocks to capitalize on above-average growth in financials that help these securities grab the market's attention and produce exceptional returns. However, it isn't easy to find a great growth stock.

By their very nature, these stocks carry above-average risk and volatility. Moreover, if a company's growth story is over or nearing its end, betting on it could lead to significant loss.

However, the Zacks Growth Style Score (part of the Zacks Style Scores system), which looks beyond the traditional growth attributes to analyze a company's real growth prospects, makes it pretty easy to find cutting-edge growth stocks.

Our proprietary system currently recommends First Bancorp (FBP - Free Report) as one such stock. This company not only has a favorable Growth Score, but also carries a top Zacks Rank.

Research shows that stocks carrying the best growth features consistently beat the market. And for stocks that have a combination of a Growth Score of A or B and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy), returns are even better.

While there are numerous reasons why the stock of this holding company for FirstBank Puerto Rico is a great growth pick right now, we have highlighted three of the most important factors below:

Earnings Growth

Arguably nothing is more important than earnings growth, as surging profit levels is what most investors are after. And for growth investors, double-digit earnings growth is definitely preferable, and often an indication of strong prospects (and stock price gains) for the company under consideration.

While the historical EPS growth rate for First Bancorp is 17.5%, investors should actually focus on the projected growth. The company's EPS is expected to grow 23.4% this year, crushing the industry average, which calls for EPS growth of 6.6%.

Impressive Asset Utilization Ratio

Asset utilization ratio -- also known as sales-to-total-assets (S/TA) ratio -- is often overlooked by investors, but it is an important indicator in growth investing. This metric exhibits how efficiently a firm is utilizing its assets to generate sales.

Right now, First Bancorp has an S/TA ratio of 0.06, which means that the company gets $0.06 in sales for each dollar in assets. Comparing this to the industry average of 0.05, it can be said that the company is more efficient.

While the level of efficiency in generating sales matters a lot, so does the sales growth of a company. And First Bancorp looks attractive from a sales growth perspective as well. The company's sales are expected to grow 10.1% this year versus the industry average of 0.1%.

Promising Earnings Estimate Revisions

Beyond the metrics outlined above, investors should consider the trend in earnings estimate revisions. A positive trend is a plus here. Empirical research shows that there is a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock price movements.

The current-year earnings estimates for First Bancorp have been revising upward. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has surged 3.4% over the past month.

Bottom Line

First Bancorp has not only earned a Growth Score of B based on a number of factors, including the ones discussed above, but it also carries a Zacks Rank #2 because of the positive earnings estimate revisions.

You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

This combination indicates that First Bancorp is a potential outperformer and a solid choice for growth investors.




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