Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Wednesday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $32.00 target price on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Fifth Third have outperformed the industry over the past six months. The performance was supported by the company’s impressive earnings surprise history. It surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings in three of the trailing four quarters. The company’s ongoing strategic efforts, such as Project North Star, will likely boost its efficiency and revenue over the long run. Also, margin pressure seems to be easing gradually, given the Fed interest rate hikes and improving economic backdrop. Fifth Third’s growing deposits base look encouraging. However, elevated expenses on the company’s branch digitization initiative and legal issues remain a concern.”

A number of other brokerages also recently issued reports on FITB. UBS AG reaffirmed a sell rating and set a $26.00 price target (up previously from $25.00) on shares of Fifth Third Bancorp in a report on Friday, October 6th. Morgan Stanley reaffirmed an equal weight rating and set a $28.00 price target (up previously from $26.00) on shares of Fifth Third Bancorp in a report on Thursday, July 6th. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $27.50 price target on shares of Fifth Third Bancorp in a report on Friday, July 14th. Citigroup Inc. reaffirmed a neutral rating and set a $31.00 price target (up previously from $28.00) on shares of Fifth Third Bancorp in a report on Monday. Finally, Deutsche Bank AG reaffirmed a hold rating on shares of Fifth Third Bancorp in a report on Monday, July 3rd. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eighteen have assigned a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of Hold and an average price target of $28.13.

Shares of Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) traded down 0.28% on Wednesday, hitting $28.18. 4,720,181 shares of the stock were exchanged. The company has a market cap of $20.76 billion, a PE ratio of 14.28 and a beta of 1.37. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $26.95 and a 200 day moving average price of $25.75. Fifth Third Bancorp has a 12 month low of $19.57 and a 12 month high of $28.97.

Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Friday, July 21st. The financial services provider reported $0.45 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.42 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $1.51 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.52 billion. Fifth Third Bancorp had a net margin of 21.83% and a return on equity of 10.44%. The business’s quarterly revenue was up .1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.40 EPS. Equities analysts forecast that Fifth Third Bancorp will post $1.83 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, October 16th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 29th will be paid a dividend of $0.16 per share. This represents a $0.64 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.26%. This is a positive change from Fifth Third Bancorp’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 28th. Fifth Third Bancorp’s payout ratio is presently 32.49%.

Fifth Third Bancorp declared that its board has approved a stock repurchase program on Wednesday, June 28th that permits the company to buyback $1.16 billion in shares. This buyback authorization permits the financial services provider to repurchase up to 67% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are typically a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, EVP Frank R. Forrest sold 7,004 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Friday, August 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $26.21, for a total transaction of $183,574.84. Following the completion of the sale, the executive vice president now directly owns 71,793 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,881,694.53. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. 0.38% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Sun Life Financial INC boosted its stake in shares of Fifth Third Bancorp by 55,050.0% during the second quarter. Sun Life Financial INC now owns 5,515 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $143,000 after purchasing an additional 5,505 shares during the period. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. boosted its stake in shares of Fifth Third Bancorp by 20.8% during the first quarter. Sterling Investment Advisors Ltd. now owns 5,800 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $147,000 after purchasing an additional 1,000 shares during the period. Ullmann Financial Group Inc. purchased a new stake in shares of Fifth Third Bancorp during the first quarter valued at $167,000. Duncker Streett & Co. Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Fifth Third Bancorp by 0.3% during the second quarter. Duncker Streett & Co. Inc. now owns 6,491 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $168,000 after purchasing an additional 17 shares during the period. Finally, Cornerstone Advisors Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Fifth Third Bancorp by 14.2% during the second quarter. Cornerstone Advisors Inc. now owns 6,811 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $177,000 after purchasing an additional 847 shares during the period. 79.58% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

About Fifth Third Bancorp

Fifth Third Bancorp is a bank holding company and a financial holding company. The Company conducts its principal lending, deposit gathering, transaction processing and service advisory activities through its banking and non-banking subsidiaries from banking centers located throughout the Midwestern and Southeastern regions of the United States.

Analyst Recommendations for Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ:FITB)

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