Zacks Investment Research Upgrades First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) to Hold

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report released on Tuesday morning, reports.

According to Zacks, “FIRST MERCHANTS CORP. is a bank holding company engaged in conducting commercial banking business through the offices of its banking subsidiaries. “

Other equities analysts have also recently issued research reports about the stock. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $44.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Wednesday, April 10th. Raymond James reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of First Quantum Minerals in a research note on Monday, April 8th. Hovde Group initiated coverage on shares of First Merchants in a research note on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a market perform rating and a $39.00 price objective on the stock. Finally, BidaskClub raised shares of YRC Worldwide from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Saturday, April 13th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $43.33.

Shares of FRME opened at $37.88 on Tuesday. The stock has a 50 day simple moving average of $36.00. The firm has a market cap of $1.87 billion, a PE ratio of 11.76, a P/E/G ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 1.04. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33, a current ratio of 0.91 and a quick ratio of 0.91. First Merchants has a 12-month low of $32.49 and a 12-month high of $50.44.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 25th. The bank reported $0.78 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by ($0.02). The business had revenue of $103.58 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $107.28 million. First Merchants had a return on equity of 11.59% and a net margin of 32.34%. On average, equities research analysts forecast that First Merchants will post 3.31 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 21st. Shareholders of record on Monday, May 20th were issued a $0.26 dividend. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.75%. This is a boost from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, May 17th. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 32.30%.

In other First Merchants news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total value of $169,696.80. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Over the last quarter, insiders acquired 76 shares of company stock valued at $2,656. Corporate insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in FRME. Norges Bank acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants in the fourth quarter worth about $16,402,000. BlackRock Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 4.4% during the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,554,701 shares of the bank’s stock worth $121,822,000 after purchasing an additional 149,020 shares during the period. First Merchants Corp boosted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 41.0% during the first quarter. First Merchants Corp now owns 254,080 shares of the bank’s stock worth $9,360,000 after purchasing an additional 73,829 shares during the period. Principal Financial Group Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 19.1% during the fourth quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 370,271 shares of the bank’s stock worth $12,689,000 after purchasing an additional 59,490 shares during the period. Finally, Geode Capital Management LLC boosted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 10.5% during the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 570,956 shares of the bank’s stock worth $19,566,000 after purchasing an additional 54,304 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 73.40% of the company’s stock.

First Merchants Company Profile

First Merchants Corporation operates as the financial holding company for First Merchants Bank that provides community banking services. It accepts time, savings, and demand deposits; and provides consumer, commercial, agri-business, and real estate mortgage loans, as well as rents safe deposit facilities.

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