Shares of First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) have been given a consensus recommendation of “Buy” by the six brokerages that are presently covering the stock, Marketbeat.com reports. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell recommendation, one has issued a hold recommendation and four have assigned a buy recommendation to the company. The average twelve-month price objective among brokers that have issued ratings on the stock in the last year is $39.00.

FRME has been the subject of several recent research reports. ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, June 2nd. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $44.00 price target for the company in a report on Monday, July 31st. BidaskClub upgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, July 5th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies restated a “hold” rating on shares of First Merchants Corporation in a report on Thursday, August 3rd.

In related news, insider Mark K. Hardwick sold 1,851 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $39.69, for a total transaction of $73,466.19. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 75,120 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,981,512.80. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. In the last quarter, insiders have purchased 66 shares of company stock valued at $2,617. 1.41% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd raised its stake in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 26.4% during the 2nd quarter. Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd now owns 7,211 shares of the bank’s stock worth $290,000 after acquiring an additional 1,506 shares in the last quarter. Koch Industries Inc. bought a new position in shares of First Merchants Corporation during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $242,000. Verition Fund Management LLC bought a new position in shares of First Merchants Corporation during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $324,000. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC raised its stake in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 43.5% during the 2nd quarter. Piedmont Investment Advisors LLC now owns 61,960 shares of the bank’s stock worth $2,487,000 after acquiring an additional 18,770 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Dean Capital Management bought a new position in shares of First Merchants Corporation during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $4,181,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 67.45% of the company’s stock.

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First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ FRME) opened at 40.67 on Friday. The company has a market capitalization of $2.00 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.57 and a beta of 0.94. First Merchants Corporation has a 1-year low of $25.84 and a 1-year high of $43.48. The company has a 50-day moving average of $39.17 and a 200-day moving average of $39.87.

First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The bank reported $0.57 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.55 by $0.02. First Merchants Corporation had a net margin of 27.04% and a return on equity of 9.63%. The business had revenue of $81.53 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $78.75 million. Equities analysts expect that First Merchants Corporation will post $2.32 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 15th. Investors of record on Friday, September 1st were paid a dividend of $0.18 per share. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 30th. This represents a $0.72 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.76%. First Merchants Corporation’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 32.88%.

About First Merchants Corporation

First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding company. The Company has a bank charter, First Merchants Bank (the Bank), which is opened for business in Muncie, Indiana. It operates through community banking business segment. The Bank also operates Lafayette Bank and Trust, and First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors (each as a division of First Merchants Bank).

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