Panagora Asset Management Inc. Raises Stake in First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME)

Panagora Asset Management Inc. boosted its holdings in First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) by 72.7% in the 2nd quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The firm owned 37,008 shares of the bank’s stock after purchasing an additional 15,584 shares during the quarter. Panagora Asset Management Inc. owned approximately 0.07% of First Merchants worth $1,403,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.

Several other hedge funds also recently added to or reduced their stakes in FRME. Virginia Retirement Systems ET AL raised its position in First Merchants by 0.8% during the 2nd quarter. Virginia Retirement Systems ET AL now owns 52,700 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $1,997,000 after purchasing an additional 400 shares in the last quarter. Strs Ohio purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the first quarter worth about $25,000. Alps Advisors Inc. grew its stake in shares of First Merchants by 8.5% during the first quarter. Alps Advisors Inc. now owns 10,209 shares of the bank’s stock worth $376,000 after acquiring an additional 800 shares during the last quarter. Systematic Financial Management LP increased its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 1.3% during the first quarter. Systematic Financial Management LP now owns 65,610 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $2,418,000 after acquiring an additional 840 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank increased its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 38.7% during the second quarter. Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank now owns 3,991 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $151,000 after acquiring an additional 1,114 shares in the last quarter. 73.68% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Shares of FRME stock traded up $0.51 on Wednesday, hitting $38.62. 3,891 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 173,070. First Merchants Co. has a twelve month low of $32.49 and a twelve month high of $49.22. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.84 billion, a PE ratio of 12.04, a PEG ratio of 1.64 and a beta of 1.06. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $36.64 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $37.19. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.40, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a current ratio of 0.91.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, July 25th. The bank reported $0.83 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.03. First Merchants had a net margin of 31.66% and a return on equity of 11.36%. The company had revenue of $106.89 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $109.10 million. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that First Merchants Co. will post 3.22 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 20th. Investors of record on Friday, September 6th will be given a $0.26 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 5th. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.69%. First Merchants’s payout ratio is 32.30%.

In other First Merchants news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction 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 available at the SEC website. Insiders purchased 103 shares of company stock valued at $3,800 over the last quarter. 1.30% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of equities research analysts recently commented on FRME shares. ValuEngine raised First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, August 1st. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday. Stephens raised shares of First Merchants from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and set a $44.00 price objective on the stock in a report on Tuesday, July 9th. Finally, Hovde Group assumed coverage on shares of First Merchants in a research note on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a “market perform” rating and a $39.00 price objective on the stock. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the stock. First Merchants presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $43.33.

About First Merchants

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

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