First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) Rating Increased to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Wednesday, Zacks.com reports. The firm currently has a $24.00 price target on the bank’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 5.87% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “First Financial Bancorp., is a financial holding company that engages in the business of commercial banking, and other permissible activities that are financial in nature, through seventeen wholly owned subsidiary institutions. Bancorp provides management and similar services for its subsidiary financial institutions. Bancorp must depend largely upon its seventeen subsidiaries for funds with which to pay the expenses of its operation and, to the extent applicable, any dividends on its outstanding shares of stock. “

Separately, Royal Bank of Canada reiterated a “sector perform” rating and set a $22.44 price objective (down from $25.00) on shares of First Financial Bancorp. in a report on Monday, July 26th.

Shares of NASDAQ:FFBC opened at $22.67 on Wednesday. The company has a current ratio of 0.80, a quick ratio of 0.80 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.23. First Financial Bancorp. has a 1 year low of $11.28 and a 1 year high of $26.62. The business has a fifty day simple moving average of $22.82 and a 200 day simple moving average of $23.98. The firm has a market cap of $2.17 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.87 and a beta of 1.21.

First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, July 21st. The bank reported $0.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.52 by $0.06. First Financial Bancorp. had a return on equity of 8.82% and a net margin of 27.05%. The business had revenue of $158.63 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $154.00 million. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.40 earnings per share. On average, sell-side analysts forecast that First Financial Bancorp. will post 2.13 EPS for the current year.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC raised its holdings in First Financial Bancorp. by 4.4% during the second quarter. Parametric Portfolio Associates LLC now owns 371,697 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $8,783,000 after buying an additional 15,537 shares in the last quarter. Morgan Stanley increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 4.1% in the second quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 358,419 shares of the bank’s stock worth $8,469,000 after purchasing an additional 14,215 shares during the period. Invesco Ltd. increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 7.9% in the second quarter. Invesco Ltd. now owns 385,529 shares of the bank’s stock worth $9,110,000 after purchasing an additional 28,140 shares during the period. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 107,225.9% in the second quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY now owns 28,978 shares of the bank’s stock worth $685,000 after purchasing an additional 28,951 shares during the period. Finally, Amalgamated Bank increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 446.1% in the second quarter. Amalgamated Bank now owns 47,360 shares of the bank’s stock worth $1,119,000 after purchasing an additional 38,687 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 73.76% of the company’s stock.

About First Financial Bancorp.

First Financial Bancorp operates a bank holding company. The firm operates through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Financial Bank, which engages in the provision of commercial banking, financial and other related activities. It operates through the following business lines: Commercial, Retail Banking, Mortgage Banking, Wealth Management, Investment Commercial Real Estate, and Commercial Finance.

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