Shares of First Merchants Corp. (NASDAQ:FRME) have been assigned a consensus rating of “Buy” from the six brokerages that are currently covering the firm. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company. The average 1 year price objective among analysts that have covered the stock in the last year is $28.13.

Several research firms have recently commented on FRME. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods raised their target price on shares of First Merchants Corp. from $27.00 to $28.50 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 27th. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of First Merchants Corp. from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, June 28th. DA Davidson raised their target price on shares of First Merchants Corp. from $29.00 to $30.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research report on Wednesday, September 28th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Cos. initiated coverage on shares of First Merchants Corp. in a research report on Monday, July 11th. They issued a “neutral” rating and a $27.00 target price for the company.

Shares of First Merchants Corp. (NASDAQ:FRME) traded up 1.39% during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $26.97. 139,093 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $26.92 and a 200-day moving average of $25.52. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.10 billion, a P/E ratio of 15.46 and a beta of 1.05. First Merchants Corp. has a 12-month low of $21.10 and a 12-month high of $27.60.

First Merchants Corp. (NASDAQ:FRME) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, July 26th. The company reported $0.49 EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.46 by $0.03. First Merchants Corp. had a net margin of 22.88% and a return on equity of 8.18%. Analysts anticipate that First Merchants Corp. will post $1.90 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 16th. Investors of record on Friday, September 2nd were given a dividend of $0.14 per share. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 31st. This represents a $0.56 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.11%. First Merchants Corp.’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 32.18%.

In other First Merchants Corp. news, insider Michael J. Stewart sold 3,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 25th. The shares were sold at an average price of $27.24, for a total transaction of $95,340.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, insider John Martin sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $26.92, for a total transaction of $134,600.00. Following the sale, the insider now owns 31,921 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $859,313.32. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 1.62% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in First Merchants Corp. by 77.4% in the second quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 5,562 shares of the company’s stock worth $139,000 after buying an additional 2,426 shares in the last quarter. Legal & General Group Plc raised its stake in First Merchants Corp. by 8.6% in the first quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 5,953 shares of the company’s stock worth $140,000 after buying an additional 470 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in First Merchants Corp. by 344.6% in the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 11,076 shares of the company’s stock worth $276,000 after buying an additional 8,585 shares in the last quarter. 1st Global Advisors Inc. raised its stake in First Merchants Corp. by 0.4% in the second quarter. 1st Global Advisors Inc. now owns 12,294 shares of the company’s stock worth $306,000 after buying an additional 49 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Stifel Financial Corp purchased a new stake in First Merchants Corp. during the second quarter worth $312,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 75.24% of the company’s stock.

First Merchants Corp. Company Profile

First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding Company. The Company has a bank charter, First Merchants Bank, National Association (the Bank), which is opened for business in Muncie, Indiana. The Bank also operates Lafayette Bank and Trust, Ameriana Bank, Ameriana Financial Services and First Merchants Trust Company as divisions of First Merchants Bank, N.A.

5 Day Chart for NASDAQ:FRME

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