Retirement Income Solutions Inc purchased a new position in shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) in the fourth quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The fund purchased 4,897 shares of the bank’s stock, valued at approximately $204,000.
Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors have also recently modified their holdings of the company. State Street Corp grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 5.3% during the third quarter. State Street Corp now owns 1,526,296 shares of the bank’s stock worth $57,442,000 after buying an additional 76,888 shares in the last quarter. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 7.9% during the fourth quarter. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. now owns 1,378,097 shares of the bank’s stock worth $57,316,000 after buying an additional 101,112 shares in the last quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 23.1% during the fourth quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 918,533 shares of the bank’s stock worth $36,512,000 after buying an additional 172,353 shares in the last quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 0.9% during the fourth quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 672,899 shares of the bank’s stock worth $27,986,000 after buying an additional 6,052 shares in the last quarter. Finally, First Merchants Corp grew its holdings in First Merchants by 166.5% in the third quarter. First Merchants Corp now owns 665,926 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $25,061,000 after purchasing an additional 416,019 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 70.95% of the company’s stock.
A number of equities research analysts recently issued reports on FRME shares. Raymond James boosted their target price on shares of First Merchants from $43.00 to $44.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a report on Monday, February 3rd. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, January 20th. BidaskClub downgraded shares of First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report on Tuesday, January 14th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Merchants has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $43.00.
First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its earnings results on Thursday, January 30th. The bank reported $0.87 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.86 by $0.01. First Merchants had a net margin of 29.79% and a return on equity of 10.60%. The firm had revenue of $121.83 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $122.20 million. As a group, research analysts expect that First Merchants Co. will post 3.35 earnings per share for the current year.
The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 20th. Shareholders of record on Friday, March 6th will be given a dividend of $0.26 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 5th. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.51%. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 30.06%.
In other First Merchants news, insider Jeffrey B. Lorentson sold 4,907 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, December 17th. The shares were sold at an average price of $41.89, for a total transaction of $205,554.23. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, EVP Michael J. Stewart sold 2,250 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, November 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $40.99, for a total transaction of $92,227.50. Insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.
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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