Principal Financial Group Inc. Buys 9,447 Shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME)

Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) by 1.2% during the 3rd quarter, according to its most recent disclosure with the SEC. The institutional investor owned 787,310 shares of the bank’s stock after acquiring an additional 9,447 shares during the period. Principal Financial Group Inc.’s holdings in First Merchants were worth $32,942,000 as of its most recent filing with the SEC.

A number of other institutional investors and hedge funds also recently added to or reduced their stakes in FRME. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its position in shares of First Merchants by 1.7% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 5,217,466 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $217,412,000 after purchasing an additional 85,925 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp grew its position in shares of First Merchants by 11.9% in the second quarter. State Street Corp now owns 1,864,695 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $77,702,000 after purchasing an additional 198,885 shares during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC grew its position in shares of First Merchants by 4.3% in the second quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 959,141 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $39,967,000 after purchasing an additional 39,838 shares during the last quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company grew its position in shares of First Merchants by 0.7% in the second quarter. The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company now owns 707,333 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $29,475,000 after purchasing an additional 5,017 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Systematic Financial Management LP grew its position in First Merchants by 17.6% during the second quarter. Systematic Financial Management LP now owns 621,512 shares of the bank’s stock worth $25,898,000 after buying an additional 92,994 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 72.56% of the company’s stock.

Shares of FRME opened at $45.78 on Friday. First Merchants Co. has a 52 week low of $36.59 and a 52 week high of $50.65. The stock has a market capitalization of $2.47 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 12.21 and a beta of 1.20. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.24, a quick ratio of 0.75 and a current ratio of 0.75. The stock has a fifty day moving average of $42.13 and a 200-day moving average of $41.53.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last announced its earnings results on Monday, October 25th. The bank reported $0.98 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.91 by $0.07. First Merchants had a return on equity of 10.94% and a net margin of 36.19%. The business had revenue of $133.22 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $132.07 million. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.67 EPS. As a group, equities analysts forecast that First Merchants Co. will post 3.83 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 17th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 3rd were given a $0.29 dividend. This represents a $1.16 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.53%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, December 2nd. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 30.93%.

A number of brokerages recently issued reports on FRME. Zacks Investment Research downgraded First Merchants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, November 3rd. Hovde Group raised First Merchants from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating and set a $47.00 target price on the stock in a report on Monday, December 13th.

In other news, insider Stephan Fluhler sold 3,155 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction dated Thursday, December 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $40.34, for a total value of $127,272.70. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Over the last three months, insiders bought 36 shares of company stock valued at $1,496. Corporate insiders own 1.36% of the company’s stock.

First Merchants Profile

First Merchants Corp. (Indiana) is a holding company, which engages in the provision of financial services. It also offers personal banking, business banking, mortgage lending, treasury management services, and wealth management. The company was founded in September 1982 and is headquartered in Muncie, IN.

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME)

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