First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) Raised to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Friday morning. The firm currently has $34.00 target price on the bank’s stock.

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. “

A number of other brokerages also recently issued reports on FFBC. BidaskClub upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, June 7th. Stephens reiterated a buy rating and set a $35.00 price target on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research report on Monday, July 23rd. Barclays lowered their price target on First Financial Bancorp from $32.00 to $31.00 and set a $31.40 rating on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 23rd. Sandler O’Neill reiterated a buy rating and set a $35.00 price target on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research report on Friday, July 20th. Finally, DA Davidson upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a neutral rating to a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, July 26th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $31.67.

Shares of FFBC opened at $30.40 on Friday. First Financial Bancorp has a 52 week low of $24.80 and a 52 week high of $33.70. The company has a current ratio of 0.93, a quick ratio of 0.92 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.78. The stock has a market capitalization of $2.98 billion, a PE ratio of 18.88, a P/E/G ratio of 1.35 and a beta of 1.03.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 19th. The bank reported $0.57 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.52 by $0.05. The company had revenue of $152.20 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $147.77 million. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 12.13% and a net margin of 25.41%. First Financial Bancorp’s revenue for the quarter was up 77.0% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $0.37 earnings per share. research analysts predict that First Financial Bancorp will post 2.25 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, September 17th. Shareholders of record on Monday, September 3rd were issued a dividend of $0.20 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, August 30th. This represents a $0.80 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.63%. This is a boost from First Financial Bancorp’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.19. First Financial Bancorp’s dividend payout ratio is presently 49.69%.

In other First Financial Bancorp news, COO Anthony M. Stollings sold 15,847 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, August 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $31.59, for a total transaction of $500,606.73. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director Vince Berta bought 1,500 shares of First Financial Bancorp stock in a transaction on Tuesday, July 31st. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $29.95 per share, with a total value of $44,925.00. Following the acquisition, the director now directly owns 6,527 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $195,483.65. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders have acquired 2,193 shares of company stock valued at $66,237 in the last three months. Insiders own 3.36% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in FFBC. Wells Fargo & Company MN raised its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 13.3% during the first quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 193,508 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $5,679,000 after acquiring an additional 22,746 shares during the last quarter. Rhumbline Advisers raised its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 1.1% during the first quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 151,601 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $4,449,000 after acquiring an additional 1,678 shares during the last quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC acquired a new position in shares of First Financial Bancorp during the first quarter valued at approximately $120,000. Swiss National Bank raised its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 62.3% during the first quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 169,943 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $4,988,000 after acquiring an additional 65,243 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. raised its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 3.7% during the first quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 415,540 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $12,197,000 after acquiring an additional 14,941 shares during the last quarter. 73.85% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

First Financial Bancorp Company Profile

First Financial Bancorp. operates as the bank holding company for First Financial Bank that provides commercial banking and other banking, and banking-related services to individuals and businesses in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. The company accepts various deposit products, such as interest-bearing and noninterest-bearing accounts, time deposits, and cash management services for commercial customers.

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