First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) Raised to Overweight at Stephens

Stephens upgraded shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) from an equal weight rating to an overweight rating in a report released on Tuesday morning, Benzinga reports. They currently have $44.00 price objective on the bank’s stock.

Other research analysts have also recently issued research reports about the stock. Raymond James reiterated a buy rating on shares of First Quantum Minerals in a research report on Monday, April 8th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of DLH from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Tuesday. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $44.00 price target on shares of First Merchants and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, April 10th. Hovde Group initiated coverage on shares of First Merchants in a report on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a market perform rating and a $39.00 price target on the stock. Finally, BidaskClub upgraded shares of YRC Worldwide from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Saturday, April 13th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $43.33.

FRME stock opened at $37.60 on Tuesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33, a current ratio of 0.91 and a quick ratio of 0.91. First Merchants has a twelve month low of $32.49 and a twelve month high of $50.44. The company has a market capitalization of $1.87 billion, a PE ratio of 11.68, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 1.04. The company’s fifty day moving average price is $35.94.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 25th. The bank reported $0.78 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by ($0.02). First Merchants had a net margin of 32.34% and a return on equity of 11.59%. The firm had revenue of $103.58 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $107.28 million. Equities research analysts forecast that First Merchants will post 3.31 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 21st. Stockholders of record on Monday, May 20th were issued a $0.26 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Friday, May 17th. This is a boost from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.77%. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is presently 32.30%.

In related news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total value of $169,696.80. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through the SEC website. Over the last 90 days, insiders bought 76 shares of company stock worth $2,656. Company insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. BlackRock Inc. lifted its stake in First Merchants by 4.4% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,554,701 shares of the bank’s stock worth $121,822,000 after acquiring an additional 149,020 shares during the period. Boston Partners lifted its position in shares of First Merchants by 2.0% during the first quarter. Boston Partners now owns 729,666 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $26,888,000 after buying an additional 14,515 shares during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC lifted its position in shares of First Merchants by 10.5% during the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 570,956 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $19,566,000 after buying an additional 54,304 shares during the last quarter. Norges Bank purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the fourth quarter valued at about $16,402,000. Finally, Principal Financial Group Inc. lifted its position in shares of First Merchants by 19.1% during the fourth quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 370,271 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $12,689,000 after buying an additional 59,490 shares during the last quarter. 73.40% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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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Analyst Recommendations for First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME)

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