Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Monday.

According to Zacks, “First Financial Bancorp., is a financial holding company that engages in the business of commercial banking, and other permissible activities that are financial in nature, through seventeen wholly owned subsidiary institutions. Bancorp provides management and similar services for its subsidiary financial institutions. Bancorp must depend largely upon its seventeen subsidiaries for funds with which to pay the expenses of its operation and, to the extent applicable, any dividends on its outstanding shares of stock. “

FFBC has been the subject of several other reports. DA Davidson initiated coverage on First Financial Bancorp in a research report on Thursday, March 23rd. They issued a buy rating and a $30.00 price objective for the company. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods restated a hold rating and set a $27.00 price target on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research report on Monday, April 10th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $26.17.

Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC)

Shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) traded down 0.39% during midday trading on Monday, reaching $25.65. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 44,191 shares. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $27.24 and its 200-day moving average is $27.15. First Financial Bancorp has a one year low of $18.00 and a one year high of $29.80. The company has a market capitalization of $1.59 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.10 and a beta of 1.18.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 20th. The bank reported $0.39 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.35 by $0.04. The company had revenue of $86.30 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $86.84 million. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 10.42% and a net margin of 23.57%. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.32 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts expect that First Financial Bancorp will post $1.56 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 3rd. Stockholders of record on Friday, June 2nd will be given a dividend of $0.17 per share. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, May 31st. This represents a $0.68 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.64%. First Financial Bancorp’s dividend payout ratio is currently 44.76%.

In other news, insider Paul C. Silva sold 1,713 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, May 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.66, for a total transaction of $47,381.58. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 2,051 shares in the company, valued at $56,730.66. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this link. Company insiders own 2.19% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in FFBC. Capital One National Association raised its position in First Financial Bancorp by 1.5% in the third quarter. Capital One National Association now owns 25,599 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $559,000 after buying an additional 385 shares in the last quarter. Well Done LLC purchased a new position in First Financial Bancorp during the third quarter valued at approximately $326,000. BlackRock Advisors LLC raised its position in First Financial Bancorp by 14.4% in the third quarter. BlackRock Advisors LLC now owns 33,314 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $728,000 after buying an additional 4,182 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Investment Management LLC raised its position in First Financial Bancorp by 0.9% in the third quarter. BlackRock Investment Management LLC now owns 280,840 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $6,134,000 after buying an additional 2,548 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Inc. raised its position in First Financial Bancorp by 3.0% in the third quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 19,223 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $419,000 after buying an additional 551 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.20% of the company’s stock.

About First Financial Bancorp

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.

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