Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report released on Monday morning, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “FIRST MERCHANTS CORP. is a bank holding company engaged in conducting commercial banking business through the offices of its banking subsidiaries. “

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on the company. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $44.00 price objective on First Merchants and gave the stock a buy rating in a report on Wednesday, April 10th. Stephens initiated coverage on shares of LiqTech International in a research report on Tuesday, July 9th. They issued an overweight rating and a $13.00 price target for the company. Hovde Group initiated coverage on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a market perform rating and a $39.00 price target for the company. Raymond James reiterated a buy rating on shares of First Quantum Minerals in a research report on Monday, April 8th. Finally, BidaskClub upgraded shares of YRC Worldwide from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Saturday, April 13th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have issued a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Merchants presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $43.33.

Shares of NASDAQ:FRME opened at $37.35 on Monday. First Merchants has a 12-month low of $32.49 and a 12-month high of $50.44. The company has a market capitalization of $1.85 billion, a PE ratio of 11.60, a PEG ratio of 1.61 and a beta of 1.04. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $36.31. The company has a current ratio of 0.91, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 25th. The bank reported $0.78 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.80 by ($0.02). First Merchants had a return on equity of 11.59% and a net margin of 32.34%. The firm had revenue of $103.58 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $107.28 million. On average, analysts forecast that First Merchants will post 3.31 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 21st. Stockholders of record on Monday, May 20th were given a $0.26 dividend. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.78%. This is an increase from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. The ex-dividend date was Friday, May 17th. First Merchants’s payout ratio is presently 32.30%.

In other news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total value of $169,696.80. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Over the last quarter, insiders bought 76 shares of company stock valued at $2,656. 1.30% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in FRME. Strs Ohio acquired a new position in First Merchants during the first quarter valued at approximately $25,000. Bessemer Group Inc. acquired a new position in First Merchants during the fourth quarter valued at approximately $67,000. Denali Advisors LLC acquired a new position in First Merchants during the second quarter valued at approximately $125,000. Bank of Montreal Can raised its position in First Merchants by 106.4% during the first quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 3,953 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $146,000 after purchasing an additional 2,038 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in First Merchants during the first quarter valued at approximately $151,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.38% of the company’s stock.

About First Merchants

First Merchants Corporation operates as the financial holding company for First Merchants Bank that provides community banking services. It accepts time, savings, and demand deposits; and provides consumer, commercial, agri-business, and real estate mortgage loans, as well as rents safe deposit facilities.

See Also: Cash Asset Ratio

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Analyst Recommendations for First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME)

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