First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report released on Monday, 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. “

A number of other analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Hovde Group initiated coverage on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Wednesday, May 22nd. They set a market perform rating and a $39.00 price target on the stock. Stephens initiated coverage on shares of LiqTech International in a research report on Tuesday, July 9th. They set an overweight rating and a $13.00 price target on the stock. Raymond James reaffirmed a buy rating on shares of First Quantum Minerals in a research report on Monday, April 8th. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $44.00 price target on shares of First Merchants and gave the company a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, April 10th. Finally, BidaskClub raised shares of YRC Worldwide from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Saturday, April 13th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company. First Merchants currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $43.33.

Shares of FRME opened at $37.35 on Monday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.91, a current ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33. The company has a market capitalization of $1.85 billion, a PE ratio of 11.60, a P/E/G ratio of 1.61 and a beta of 1.04. The firm’s fifty day moving average price is $36.31. First Merchants has a 12 month low of $32.49 and a 12 month high of $50.44.

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

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 21st. Stockholders of record on Monday, May 20th were issued 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 dividend yield of 2.78%. This is a positive change from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is currently 32.30%.

In other news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total transaction of $169,696.80. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Insiders have bought 76 shares of company stock worth $2,656 in the last quarter. Company insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. Strs Ohio acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants during the first quarter valued at about $25,000. Bessemer Group Inc. acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants during the fourth quarter valued at about $67,000. Denali Advisors LLC acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants during the second quarter valued at about $125,000. Bank of Montreal Can raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 106.4% during the first quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 3,953 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $146,000 after purchasing an additional 2,038 shares during the period. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants during the first quarter valued at about $151,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.38% 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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