First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) Lowered to “Sell” at BidaskClub

BidaskClub lowered shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report published on Tuesday, BidAskClub reports.

FRME has been the subject of several other research reports. ValuEngine lowered shares of First Merchants from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Wednesday, December 18th. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of First Merchants from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Thursday, January 9th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $42.60.

FRME traded down $0.31 during trading on Tuesday, hitting $41.40. 113,078 shares of the company traded hands, compared to its average volume of 130,236. The firm has a market cap of $2.30 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.86 and a beta of 1.08. The stock’s fifty day moving average is $41.15 and its 200 day moving average is $38.83. The company has a quick ratio of 0.87, a current ratio of 0.87 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.28. First Merchants has a one year low of $33.00 and a one year high of $42.48.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 24th. The bank reported $0.88 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.08. The company had revenue of $111.05 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $109.87 million. First Merchants had a net margin of 29.88% and a return on equity of 10.36%. On average, equities research analysts forecast that First Merchants will post 3.36 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 20th. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 6th were given a dividend of $0.26 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, December 5th. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.51%. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is presently 32.30%.

In other First Merchants news, insider Jeffrey B. Lorentson sold 4,907 shares of the stock in a transaction dated 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 document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, EVP Michael J. Stewart sold 2,250 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $40.99, for a total transaction of $92,227.50. 1.30% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. First Trust Advisors LP lifted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 5.7% in the first quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 168,710 shares of the bank’s stock worth $6,217,000 after buying an additional 9,071 shares in the last quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the first quarter worth about $151,000. Bank of Montreal Can lifted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 111.1% in the second quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 8,344 shares of the bank’s stock worth $317,000 after buying an additional 4,391 shares in the last quarter. Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 1.8% in the second quarter. Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc. now owns 312,719 shares of the bank’s stock worth $11,853,000 after buying an additional 5,610 shares in the last quarter. Finally, LPL Financial LLC purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the second quarter worth about $607,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 70.81% 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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