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Bar Harbor Or Camden National?

Carlton Getz, CFA profile picture
Carlton Getz, CFA


  • Bar Harbor Bankshares has many positive attributes.
  • The merger with Lake Sunapee Bank Group has the potential to dilute many of the company's best qualities.
  • We view Camden National as the superior bank in a market characterized by local competition and deep local market knowledge.

Bar Harbor Bankshares (NYSE: NYSE:BHB) is a community bank based in Bar Harbor, Maine, primarily serving Downeast Maine and, through its recent merger with Lake Sunapee Bank Group, markets in adjacent New Hampshire and Vermont. The company is one of the largest Maine based financial institutions, especially with its recent Lake Sunapee Bank Group merger, and retains a leading market share position its core geographic locations.

We have long liked Bar Harbor Bankshares for a number of reasons, including the unique markets served by the bank in Maine, the company's consistent growth, strong returns on assets and equity, and the relatively modest valuation of the bank. In the past, the company has also been very consistent achieving a return on assets in the range of 1.0% and a return on equity in the range of 10%, metrics we look for as an initial indicator of strength, unlike many community banks which struggled during the financial crisis and continue to deal with sub-par returns on assets and equity. However, the completion of the merger and the post-election rise in valuation have led us to conclude that it's prudent to begin reducing our position in favor of other opportunities.

Interestingly, the conclusion of the merger with Lake Sunapee Bank Group has also propelled Bar Harbor to be essentially identical in terms of scale, deposit and loan composition, market dynamics, etc., with another Maine based bank also in our portfolios, Camden National Corporation (NASDAQ: NASDAQ:CAC). This article focuses on Bar Harbor Bankshares but compares the company with its similar cross state rival to illustrate key similarities and differences between the banks and develop a rationale for recommending one institution versus the other.


The company's traditional market area is Downeast Maine, an area roughly consisting of the coastal regions of Maine from the Canadian

This article was written by

Carlton Getz, CFA profile picture
The author writes on behalf of Winter Harbor Capital, a private fund, and oversees private portfolios for individual and institutional clients. The author founded an investment company in 1995 with the view that a value oriented investment philosophy focused on intrinsic value and long term opportunities could generate superior absolute returns over time, leading to portfolios with unusual investment tenure sometimes exceeding 10 years. In addition to stints in micro and small capitalization research at Wasatch Advisors in Salt Lake City and in private banking with J.P. Morgan Private Bank in New York City, the author is a registered investment advisor, licensed professional engineer, and graduate of the Darden School at the University of Virginia.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are long BHB, CAC, KTHN. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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