First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) Position Raised by Prudential Financial Inc.

Prudential Financial Inc. lifted its stake in shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) by 74.6% during the second quarter, according to the company in its most recent disclosure with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The institutional investor owned 124,502 shares of the bank’s stock after purchasing an additional 53,180 shares during the quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. owned about 0.25% of First Merchants worth $4,719,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors also recently modified their holdings of the stock. Virginia Retirement Systems ET AL raised its stake in shares of First Merchants by 0.8% during the second quarter. Virginia Retirement Systems ET AL now owns 52,700 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $1,997,000 after purchasing an additional 400 shares in the last quarter. Alps Advisors Inc. raised its stake in shares of First Merchants by 8.5% during the first quarter. Alps Advisors Inc. now owns 10,209 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $376,000 after purchasing an additional 800 shares in the last quarter. Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank raised its stake in shares of First Merchants by 38.7% during the second quarter. Zurcher Kantonalbank Zurich Cantonalbank now owns 3,991 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $151,000 after purchasing an additional 1,114 shares in the last quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY raised its stake in shares of First Merchants by 9.6% during the first quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY now owns 17,566 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $647,000 after purchasing an additional 1,539 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Bank of Montreal Can raised its stake in shares of First Merchants by 106.4% during the first quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 3,953 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $146,000 after purchasing an additional 2,038 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.68% of the company’s stock.

FRME has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, September 9th. Stephens upgraded shares of First Merchants from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and set a $44.00 price objective on the stock in a research note on Tuesday, July 9th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday. Finally, Hovde Group started coverage on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a “market perform” rating and a $39.00 price target on the stock. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Merchants currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $43.33.

In other First Merchants news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 7,300 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, September 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $37.98, for a total value of $277,254.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Over the last quarter, insiders acquired 103 shares of company stock worth $3,800. 1.30% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

First Merchants stock traded up $0.55 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $39.10. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 262,599 shares, compared to its average volume of 174,025. The company has a quick ratio of 0.91, a current ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.40. The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $36.69 and its 200-day moving average price is $37.17. First Merchants Co. has a 12 month low of $32.49 and a 12 month high of $49.22. The company has a market capitalization of $1.95 billion, a PE ratio of 12.14, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.74 and a beta of 1.06.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 25th. The bank reported $0.83 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.03. First Merchants had a net margin of 31.66% and a return on equity of 11.36%. The firm had revenue of $106.89 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $109.10 million. As a group, equities analysts anticipate that First Merchants Co. will post 3.22 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 20th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 6th will be given a $0.26 dividend. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.66%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 5th. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 32.30%.

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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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME)

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