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

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

Several other brokerages have also recently weighed in on FRME. Raymond James reissued a buy rating on shares of First Quantum Minerals in a research note on Monday, April 8th. Hovde Group began coverage on First Merchants in a research note on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a market perform rating and a $39.00 price target for the company. BidaskClub raised YRC Worldwide from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Saturday, April 13th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies set a $44.00 target price on First Merchants and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Wednesday, April 10th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $43.33.

Shares of FRME stock opened at $37.60 on Tuesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.87 billion, a PE ratio of 11.68, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 1.04. The company has a 50-day moving average of $35.94. The company has a current ratio of 0.91, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33. First Merchants has a 1-year low of $32.49 and a 1-year high of $50.44.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 25th. The bank reported $0.78 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.80 by ($0.02). The company had revenue of $103.58 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $107.28 million. First Merchants had a net margin of 32.34% and a return on equity of 11.59%. As a group, equities analysts forecast that First Merchants will post 3.31 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 21st. Investors of record on Monday, May 20th were paid a dividend of $0.26 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, May 17th. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.77%. This is a boost from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 32.30%.

In related news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total transaction of $169,696.80. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Insiders have purchased 76 shares of company stock valued at $2,656 in the last ninety days. 1.30% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in FRME. Denali Advisors LLC bought a new position in First Merchants in the second quarter worth approximately $125,000. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. bought a new position in First Merchants in the first quarter worth approximately $151,000. First Trust Advisors LP boosted its holdings in First Merchants by 5.7% in the first quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 168,710 shares of the bank’s stock worth $6,217,000 after acquiring an additional 9,071 shares in the last quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY boosted its holdings in First Merchants by 9.6% in the first quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY now owns 17,566 shares of the bank’s stock worth $647,000 after acquiring an additional 1,539 shares in the last quarter. Finally, MetLife Investment Advisors LLC boosted its holdings in First Merchants by 9.4% in the first quarter. MetLife Investment Advisors LLC now owns 24,818 shares of the bank’s stock worth $915,000 after acquiring an additional 2,123 shares in the last quarter. 73.40% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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Analyst Recommendations for First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME)

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