Raymond James Financial Inc. lowered shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) from an outperform rating to a market perform rating in a research note issued to investors on Thursday.

FFBC has been the subject of several other research reports. Piper Jaffray Cos. initiated coverage on First Financial Bancorp in a report on Thursday. They set a neutral rating and a $23.00 price target for the company. Zacks Investment Research raised First Financial Bancorp from a sell rating to a hold rating and set a $24.00 price target for the company in a report on Monday, July 25th. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods raised their price target on First Financial Bancorp from $19.00 to $21.00 and gave the company a market perform rating in a report on Monday, July 25th. Hilliard Lyons downgraded First Financial Bancorp from a buy rating to a neutral rating in a report on Monday, July 25th. Finally, Barclays PLC raised their price target on First Financial Bancorp from $19.00 to $20.00 and gave the company an underweight rating in a report on Monday, July 25th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating and nine have given a hold rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $20.56.

Shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) traded down 0.28% during midday trading on Thursday, hitting $21.33. 50,640 shares of the stock traded hands. First Financial Bancorp has a 1-year low of $13.76 and a 1-year high of $22.53. The company has a market capitalization of $1.32 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.41 and a beta of 1.19. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $21.78 and a 200 day moving average of $20.14.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $0.36 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.34 by $0.02. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 9.82% and a net margin of 22.23%. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.31 earnings per share. Equities research analysts predict that First Financial Bancorp will post $1.41 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, October 3rd. Investors of record on Friday, September 2nd were given a $0.16 dividend. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.99%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 31st. First Financial Bancorp’s payout ratio is currently 49.23%.

In related news, EVP Holly M. Foster sold 2,021 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $21.84, for a total value of $44,138.64. Following the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 4,979 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $108,741.36. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Also, COO Anthony M. Stollings sold 13,081 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, August 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $21.11, for a total value of $276,139.91. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 2.19% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. IFP Advisors Inc raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 0.9% in the first quarter. IFP Advisors Inc now owns 5,529 shares of the company’s stock valued at $101,000 after buying an additional 49 shares during the period. PineBridge Investments L.P. raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 4.2% in the second quarter. PineBridge Investments L.P. now owns 7,845 shares of the company’s stock valued at $153,000 after buying an additional 314 shares during the period. Teacher Retirement System of Texas raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 11.1% in the second quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas now owns 8,615 shares of the company’s stock valued at $168,000 after buying an additional 864 shares during the period. Societe Generale acquired a new stake in First Financial Bancorp during the second quarter valued at $172,000. Finally, SG Americas Securities LLC raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 54.1% in the second quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC now owns 8,825 shares of the company’s stock valued at $172,000 after buying an additional 3,100 shares during the period. 72.70% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

First Financial Bancorp Company Profile

First Financial Bancorp. (First Financial) is a regional bank holding company. First Financial is engaged in the business of commercial banking and other banking and banking-related activities through its subsidiary, First Financial Bank, National Association (the Bank). The range of banking services provided by First Financial to individuals and businesses include commercial lending, real estate lending and consumer financing.

5 Day Chart for NASDAQ:FFBC

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