First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) has been assigned an average recommendation of “Hold” from the eleven brokerages that are covering the firm, Marketbeat Ratings reports. Three equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company. The average 1 year price target among analysts that have issued ratings on the stock in the last year is $29.75.

A number of brokerages have recently commented on FFBC. Zacks Investment Research raised First Financial Bancorp from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, January 28th. ValuEngine downgraded First Financial Bancorp from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Wednesday, March 6th. BidaskClub downgraded First Financial Bancorp from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Thursday, March 7th. Finally, Sandler O’Neill downgraded First Financial Bancorp from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $30.00 price objective for the company. in a research report on Thursday, November 29th.

Shares of FFBC stock traded up $0.10 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $25.81. 3,497 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 363,513. First Financial Bancorp has a 1-year low of $22.27 and a 1-year high of $33.70. The firm has a market capitalization of $2.53 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.36, a PEG ratio of 1.11 and a beta of 1.25. The company has a current ratio of 0.91, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.69.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, January 23rd. The bank reported $0.61 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.58 by $0.03. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 11.63% and a net margin of 26.81%. The firm had revenue of $155.46 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $152.75 million. During the same period last year, the firm posted $0.45 earnings per share. On average, sell-side analysts predict that First Financial Bancorp will post 2.31 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 1st will be given a dividend of $0.22 per share. This represents a $0.88 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.41%. This is an increase from First Financial Bancorp’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.20. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, February 28th. First Financial Bancorp’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 38.60%.

First Financial Bancorp declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a share buyback program on Monday, January 14th that authorizes the company to buyback 0 shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the bank to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of FFBC. Bank of New York Mellon Corp increased its holdings in First Financial Bancorp by 17.1% in the second quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 1,395,785 shares of the bank’s stock worth $42,782,000 after purchasing an additional 204,262 shares in the last quarter. Assenagon Asset Management S.A. bought a new stake in First Financial Bancorp in the third quarter worth approximately $1,013,000. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its holdings in First Financial Bancorp by 8.4% in the third quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 197,652 shares of the bank’s stock worth $5,871,000 after purchasing an additional 15,297 shares in the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its holdings in First Financial Bancorp by 3.5% in the third quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 3,264,657 shares of the bank’s stock worth $96,960,000 after purchasing an additional 110,575 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS increased its holdings in First Financial Bancorp by 13.0% in the third quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS now owns 23,372 shares of the bank’s stock worth $694,000 after purchasing an additional 2,682 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 75.29% of the company’s stock.

First Financial Bancorp Company Profile

First Financial Bancorp. operates as the bank holding company for First Financial Bank that provides commercial banking and related services to individuals and businesses in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois. The company accepts various deposit products, such as interest-bearing and noninterest-bearing accounts, time deposits, and cash management services for commercial customers.

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Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC)

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