First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) Downgraded by BidaskClub to Sell

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) was downgraded by equities researchers at BidaskClub from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report issued on Thursday, January 4th.

Several other research firms also recently weighed in on FRME. Zacks Investment Research downgraded First Merchants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, November 2nd. Piper Jaffray Companies reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and issued a $46.00 price target on shares of First Merchants in a report on Friday, October 6th. ValuEngine raised First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Sunday, December 31st. Finally, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reissued a “buy” rating and set a $47.00 target price on shares of First Merchants in a research note on Sunday, October 29th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $47.33.

Shares of First Merchants (FRME) opened at $44.20 on Thursday. The company has a market capitalization of $2,156.88, a PE ratio of 19.17, a P/E/G ratio of 2.24 and a beta of 0.91. First Merchants has a 1-year low of $35.26 and a 1-year high of $45.42. The company has a current ratio of 0.93, a quick ratio of 0.93 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.43.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The bank reported $0.50 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.55 by ($0.05). The business had revenue of $93.09 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $97.45 million. First Merchants had a return on equity of 9.56% and a net margin of 26.28%. analysts predict that First Merchants will post 2.26 EPS for the current year.

In related news, Director Michael C. Marhenke bought 2,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 29th. The stock was purchased at an average cost of $43.68 per share, for a total transaction of $87,360.00. Following the completion of the acquisition, the director now owns 33,543 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,465,158.24. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, President Michael C. Rechin sold 5,332 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction on Tuesday, November 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $41.41, for a total value of $220,798.12. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders bought 5,200 shares of company stock valued at $223,978 over the last ninety days. Insiders own 1.41% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Vanguard Group Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 6.7% in the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 1,906,637 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $76,533,000 after purchasing an additional 119,583 shares during the last quarter. Commonwealth Equity Services Inc purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at about $472,000. OLD National Bancorp IN acquired a new position in First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at about $1,993,000. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. increased its position in First Merchants by 1.0% in the 2nd quarter. Schwab Charles Investment Management Inc. now owns 176,741 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $7,095,000 after acquiring an additional 1,704 shares during the period. Finally, Northern Trust Corp increased its position in First Merchants by 1.6% in the 2nd quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 997,546 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $40,042,000 after acquiring an additional 15,374 shares during the period. 69.15% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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First Merchants Company Profile

First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding company. The Company has a bank charter, First Merchants Bank (the Bank), which is opened for business in Muncie, Indiana. It operates through community banking business segment. The Bank also operates Lafayette Bank and Trust, and First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors (each as a division of First Merchants Bank).

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