Contrasting Southern First Bancshares (SFST) and First Mid-Illinois Bancshares (FMBH)

Southern First Bancshares (NASDAQ: SFST) and First Mid-Illinois Bancshares (NASDAQ:FMBH) are both small-cap finance companies, but which is the better stock? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their risk, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership, valuation, dividends, earnings and profitability.

Risk and Volatility

Southern First Bancshares has a beta of 0.67, meaning that its stock price is 33% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, First Mid-Illinois Bancshares has a beta of 0.08, meaning that its stock price is 92% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

This table compares Southern First Bancshares and First Mid-Illinois Bancshares’ net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Southern First Bancshares 21.10% 11.10% 0.97%
First Mid-Illinois Bancshares 20.54% 9.33% 0.99%

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of recent ratings for Southern First Bancshares and First Mid-Illinois Bancshares, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Southern First Bancshares 0 1 2 0 2.67
First Mid-Illinois Bancshares 0 0 1 0 3.00

Southern First Bancshares presently has a consensus target price of $38.67, indicating a potential downside of 10.49%. First Mid-Illinois Bancshares has a consensus target price of $37.00, indicating a potential upside of 4.46%. Given First Mid-Illinois Bancshares’ stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe First Mid-Illinois Bancshares is more favorable than Southern First Bancshares.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Southern First Bancshares and First Mid-Illinois Bancshares’ revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Southern First Bancshares $62.04 million 5.12 $13.03 million $1.99 21.71
First Mid-Illinois Bancshares $129.89 million 3.45 $26.68 million $2.13 16.63

First Mid-Illinois Bancshares has higher revenue and earnings than Southern First Bancshares. First Mid-Illinois Bancshares is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Southern First Bancshares, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

70.5% of Southern First Bancshares shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 21.3% of First Mid-Illinois Bancshares shares are owned by institutional investors. 12.9% of Southern First Bancshares shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 20.3% of First Mid-Illinois Bancshares shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Dividends

First Mid-Illinois Bancshares pays an annual dividend of $0.68 per share and has a dividend yield of 1.9%. Southern First Bancshares does not pay a dividend. First Mid-Illinois Bancshares pays out 31.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Southern First Bancshares Company Profile

Southern First Bancshares, Inc. is a bank holding company that owns the capital stock of Southern First Bank (the Bank), a South Carolina state bank, and all of the stock of Greenville First Statutory Trust I and II (the Trusts). The Bank is a commercial bank with approximately nine retail offices located in Greenville, Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina. The Bank is primarily engaged in the business of accepting demand deposits and savings deposits insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (the FDIC) and providing commercial, consumer and mortgage loans to the public. In addition to deposit and loan services, the Company offers other bank services, such as Internet banking, cash management services, safe deposit boxes, direct deposit and automatic drafts for various accounts. The Bank offers a range of lending services, including real estate, commercial, and equity-line consumer loans to individuals and small- to medium-sized businesses, and professional firms.

First Mid-Illinois Bancshares Company Profile

First Mid-Illinois Bancshares, Inc. is a financial holding company. The Company is engaged in the business of banking through its subsidiaries, First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust, N.A. (First Mid Bank) and First Clover Leaf Bank, N.A. (First Clover Leaf Bank). The Company provides data processing services to affiliates through another subsidiary, Mid-Illinois Data Services, Inc. (MIDS). The Company offers insurance products and services to customers through its subsidiary, The Checkley Agency, Inc., doing business as First Mid Insurance Group (First Mid Insurance). The Company also owns three statutory business trusts, First Mid-Illinois Statutory Trust I (First Mid Trust I), and First Mid-Illinois Statutory Trust II (First Mid Trust II), and Clover Leaf Statutory Trust I (CLST Trust). As of December 31, 2016, the Company operated in three primary lines of business: community banking, wealth management, and insurance brokerage.

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