Piper Jaffray Companies reissued their neutral rating on shares of First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) in a research report report published on Friday, MarketBeat reports. The firm currently has a $46.00 target price on the bank’s stock.

FRME has been the topic of a number of other research reports. Zacks Investment Research raised First Merchants Corporation from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $44.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 31st. BidaskClub downgraded First Merchants Corporation from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $44.33.

Shares of First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ FRME) opened at 44.26 on Friday. The company has a market cap of $2.17 billion, a P/E ratio of 20.21 and a beta of 0.94. First Merchants Corporation has a 52 week low of $25.84 and a 52 week high of $44.27. The company’s 50-day moving average price is $40.21 and its 200 day moving average price is $40.10.

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

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The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, September 15th. Investors of record on Friday, September 1st were issued a dividend of $0.18 per share. This represents a $0.72 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.63%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 30th. First Merchants Corporation’s payout ratio is currently 32.88%.

In related news, insider Mark K. Hardwick sold 1,851 shares of First Merchants Corporation stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 9th. The stock was 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 $2,981,512.80. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at the SEC website. Insiders have purchased 66 shares of company stock valued at $2,644 in the last quarter. 1.41% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Cornerstone Capital Management Holdings LLC. bought a new position in First Merchants Corporation during the first quarter worth about $115,000. Advisor Group Inc. grew its holdings in First Merchants Corporation by 8.3% during the second quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 2,981 shares of the bank’s stock worth $120,000 after purchasing an additional 228 shares during the period. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. grew its holdings in First Merchants Corporation by 1.7% during the second quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 3,029 shares of the bank’s stock worth $122,000 after purchasing an additional 50 shares during the period. Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. bought a new position in First Merchants Corporation during the first quarter worth about $138,000. Finally, Meeder Asset Management Inc. grew its holdings in First Merchants Corporation by 5.7% during the first quarter. Meeder Asset Management Inc. now owns 3,538 shares of the bank’s stock worth $139,000 after purchasing an additional 190 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 67.76% of the company’s stock.

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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