First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) was upgraded by BidaskClub from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Thursday.

A number of other research analysts also recently commented on FRME. Zacks Investment Research downgraded First Merchants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, October 2nd. Piper Jaffray Companies reissued a “neutral” rating and issued a $46.00 price target on shares of First Merchants in a report on Friday, October 6th. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $47.00 price target on shares of First Merchants in a report on Sunday, October 29th. Finally, ValuEngine raised First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Sunday, December 31st. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company. First Merchants has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $47.33.

First Merchants (NASDAQ FRME) traded up $0.87 during trading hours on Thursday, reaching $43.89. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 190,115 shares, compared to its average volume of 235,877. The company has a current ratio of 0.93, a quick ratio of 0.93 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.43. First Merchants has a 52 week low of $35.26 and a 52 week high of $45.42. The company has a market cap of $2,160.00, a P/E ratio of 20.13, a PEG ratio of 2.21 and a beta of 0.91.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The bank reported $0.50 EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.55 by ($0.05). First Merchants had a return on equity of 9.56% and a net margin of 26.28%. The firm had revenue of $93.09 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $97.45 million. analysts anticipate that First Merchants will post 2.26 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, insider Mark K. Hardwick sold 4,301 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, November 7th. The stock was sold at an average price of $42.61, for a total value of $183,265.61. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Director Michael C. Marhenke purchased 2,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 29th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $43.68 per share, for a total transaction of $87,360.00. Following the acquisition, the director now owns 33,543 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,465,158.24. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. In the last three months, insiders purchased 5,200 shares of company stock worth $223,978. Company insiders own 1.41% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Advisor Group Inc. raised its stake in First Merchants by 8.3% during the 2nd quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 2,981 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $120,000 after acquiring an additional 228 shares in the last quarter. Quantbot Technologies LP raised its stake in First Merchants by 2,048.6% during the 2nd quarter. Quantbot Technologies LP now owns 3,975 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $159,000 after acquiring an additional 3,790 shares in the last quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. bought a new stake in First Merchants during the 3rd quarter valued at $172,000. Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its stake in First Merchants by 17.6% during the 2nd quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 5,155 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $207,000 after acquiring an additional 771 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Amalgamated Bank raised its stake in First Merchants by 1.1% during the 2nd quarter. Amalgamated Bank now owns 5,181 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $208,000 after acquiring an additional 58 shares in the last quarter. 69.15% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About First Merchants

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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