Shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) have received an average rating of “Hold” from the six research firms that are presently covering the firm, Marketbeat reports. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold recommendation and two have issued a buy recommendation on the company. The average 1-year price target among brokerages that have issued a report on the stock in the last year is $50.00.
Several brokerages recently commented on FRME. BidaskClub raised shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Friday, March 9th. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of First Merchants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, February 27th. FIG Partners reissued a “market-perform” rating on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Monday, January 29th. Piper Jaffray Companies reissued a “hold” rating and set a $48.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Sunday, January 28th. Finally, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reissued a “buy” rating and set a $52.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Thursday, January 25th.
FRME stock opened at $43.61 on Wednesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.42, a current ratio of 0.93 and a quick ratio of 0.93. The stock has a market cap of $2,175.34, a PE ratio of 18.68, a P/E/G ratio of 2.12 and a beta of 0.93. First Merchants has a 12 month low of $36.73 and a 12 month high of $45.42.
First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, January 25th. The bank reported $0.61 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, hitting the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.61. The company had revenue of $97.83 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $98.30 million. First Merchants had a net margin of 24.90% and a return on equity of 9.47%. analysts anticipate that First Merchants will post 2.96 earnings per share for the current year.
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, March 16th. Investors of record on Friday, March 2nd were given a dividend of $0.18 per share. This represents a $0.72 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.65%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, March 1st. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 33.96%.
In related news, insider Michael J. Stewart sold 2,219 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, February 26th. The shares were sold at an average price of $42.60, for a total transaction of $94,529.40. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 55,706 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,373,075.60. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Corporate insiders own 1.41% of the company’s stock.
A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in FRME. Macquarie Group Ltd. purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 3rd quarter valued at about $172,000. Hamilton Capital Management Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 4th quarter valued at about $215,000. Ullmann Financial Group Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 4th quarter valued at about $235,000. Trexquant Investment LP purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 3rd quarter valued at about $243,000. Finally, Xact Kapitalforvaltning AB purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 4th quarter valued at about $257,000. 70.14% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.
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About First Merchants
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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