First Merchants (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 note issued to investors on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “FIRST MERCHANTS CORP. is a bank holding company engaged in conducting commercial banking business through the offices of its banking subsidiaries. “

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Other equities analysts also recently issued reports about the company. ValuEngine upgraded First Merchants from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Sunday, December 31st. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reiterated a buy rating and set a $52.00 target price on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Thursday, January 25th. BidaskClub upgraded First Merchants from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Thursday, January 11th. Piper Jaffray restated a hold rating and issued a $48.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants in a report on Sunday, January 28th. Finally, FIG Partners restated a market-perform rating on shares of First Merchants in a report on Monday, January 29th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Merchants currently has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $49.67.

NASDAQ FRME opened at $41.70 on Thursday. First Merchants has a twelve month low of $37.03 and a twelve month high of $45.42. The stock has a market cap of $2,064.40, a P/E ratio of 17.30, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.01 and a beta of 0.93. The company has a current ratio of 0.93, a quick ratio of 0.93 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.42.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its earnings results on Thursday, January 25th. The bank reported $0.61 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.61. First Merchants had a return on equity of 9.47% and a net margin of 24.90%. The firm had revenue of $97.83 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $98.30 million. equities analysts anticipate that First Merchants will post 2.96 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, March 16th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 2nd were issued a $0.18 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, March 1st. This represents a $0.72 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.73%. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 29.88%.

In other news, insider Michael J. Stewart sold 2,219 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, February 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $42.60, for a total value of $94,529.40. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 55,706 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,373,075.60. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Company insiders own 1.41% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Commonwealth Equity Services Inc purchased a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter worth about $472,000. Wells Fargo & Company MN raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 5.9% in the 3rd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 286,338 shares of the bank’s stock worth $12,292,000 after purchasing an additional 15,855 shares during the period. Swiss National Bank raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 6.9% in the 4th quarter. Swiss National Bank now owns 83,662 shares of the bank’s stock worth $3,519,000 after purchasing an additional 5,400 shares during the period. Schroder Investment Management Group raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 10.7% in the 3rd quarter. Schroder Investment Management Group now owns 326,662 shares of the bank’s stock worth $13,968,000 after purchasing an additional 31,617 shares during the period. Finally, Kennedy Capital Management Inc. raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 130.9% in the 4th quarter. Kennedy Capital Management Inc. now owns 393,935 shares of the bank’s stock worth $16,569,000 after purchasing an additional 223,293 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 70.14% of the company’s stock.

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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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