Business First Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:BFST) Sees Large Decline in Short Interest

Business First Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:BFST) saw a significant drop in short interest in the month of May. As of May 31st, there was short interest totalling 106,500 shares, a drop of 15.7% from the April 30th total of 126,400 shares. Approximately 0.9% of the shares of the stock are short sold. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 12,300 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 8.7 days.

NASDAQ:BFST traded down $0.14 during trading hours on Thursday, hitting $25.10. 122 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 9,452. The firm has a market capitalization of $336.71 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.29 and a beta of 0.12. Business First Bancshares has a 52 week low of $20.64 and a 52 week high of $27.89. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.20, a quick ratio of 0.95 and a current ratio of 0.95.

Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, April 23rd. The company reported $0.41 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.40 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $21.43 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $21.29 million. Business First Bancshares had a return on equity of 7.91% and a net margin of 18.11%. Equities analysts forecast that Business First Bancshares will post 1.82 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, May 31st. Investors of record on Wednesday, May 15th were paid a dividend of $0.10 per share. This is a positive change from Business First Bancshares’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.08. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, May 14th. This represents a $0.40 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.59%. Business First Bancshares’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 27.59%.

BFST has been the subject of several research analyst reports. Zacks Investment Research raised Business First Bancshares from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $28.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Tuesday, May 28th. ValuEngine raised Business First Bancshares from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, April 29th. Finally, FIG Partners reissued an “outperform” rating on shares of Business First Bancshares in a research note on Thursday, April 25th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $28.50.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of BFST. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA boosted its stake in Business First Bancshares by 431.1% during the first quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 2,257 shares of the company’s stock valued at $55,000 after buying an additional 1,832 shares during the period. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY boosted its stake in Business First Bancshares by 192.6% during the fourth quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY now owns 3,467 shares of the company’s stock valued at $84,000 after buying an additional 2,282 shares during the period. Bank of America Corp DE lifted its stake in Business First Bancshares by 81.5% during the fourth quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 7,299 shares of the company’s stock worth $177,000 after purchasing an additional 3,278 shares during the last quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund lifted its stake in Business First Bancshares by 14.2% during the fourth quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 12,100 shares of the company’s stock worth $293,000 after purchasing an additional 1,500 shares during the last quarter. Finally, First Trust Advisors LP bought a new stake in Business First Bancshares during the fourth quarter worth about $294,000. 43.17% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Business First Bancshares Company Profile

Business First Bancshares, Inc operates as the bank holding company for Business First Bank that provides various banking products and services. It offers various deposit products and services, including a range of checking, demand, money market, time, and savings accounts, as well as certificates of deposit; and remote deposit capture and direct deposit services.

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