First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “First Financial Bancorp., is a financial holding company that engages in the business of commercial banking, and other permissible activities that are financial in nature, through seventeen wholly owned subsidiary institutions. Bancorp provides management and similar services for its subsidiary financial institutions. Bancorp must depend largely upon its seventeen subsidiaries for funds with which to pay the expenses of its operation and, to the extent applicable, any dividends on its outstanding shares of stock. “

FFBC has been the topic of a number of other research reports. Piper Jaffray Cos. initiated coverage on First Financial Bancorp in a research note on Thursday, October 6th. They set a “neutral” rating and a $23.00 price target on the stock. Barclays PLC boosted their price target on First Financial Bancorp from $20.00 to $22.00 and gave the stock an “underweight” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 11th. Finally, Raymond James Financial Inc. lowered First Financial Bancorp from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 6th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating and nine have assigned a hold rating to the stock. First Financial Bancorp currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $21.31.

Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC)

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) traded up 1.78% during mid-day trading on Tuesday, hitting $28.55. 233,574 shares of the stock were exchanged. First Financial Bancorp has a 52-week low of $13.76 and a 52-week high of $29.80. The stock has a market cap of $1.77 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.84 and a beta of 1.18. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $25.63 and a 200-day moving average of $22.11.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, October 20th. The company reported $0.37 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.36 by $0.01. First Financial Bancorp had a net margin of 23.05% and a return on equity of 10.17%. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.30 earnings per share. Equities analysts predict that First Financial Bancorp will post $1.42 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, January 3rd. Shareholders of record on Friday, December 2nd will be issued a $0.16 dividend. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.24%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, November 30th. First Financial Bancorp’s payout ratio is presently 46.72%.

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In other First Financial Bancorp news, Director William J. Kramer sold 2,700 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, October 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $21.60, for a total value of $58,320.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 4,314 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $93,182.40. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director Peter E. Geier sold 2,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, December 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.05, for a total value of $56,100.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 35,021 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $982,339.05. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 2.19% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. IFP Advisors Inc increased its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 14.6% in the second quarter. IFP Advisors Inc now owns 6,337 shares of the company’s stock worth $123,000 after buying an additional 808 shares during the last quarter. PineBridge Investments L.P. increased its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 4.2% in the second quarter. PineBridge Investments L.P. now owns 7,845 shares of the company’s stock worth $153,000 after buying an additional 314 shares during the last quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas increased its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 11.1% in the second quarter. Teacher Retirement System of Texas now owns 8,615 shares of the company’s stock worth $168,000 after buying an additional 864 shares during the last quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC increased its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 54.1% in the second quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC now owns 8,825 shares of the company’s stock worth $172,000 after buying an additional 3,100 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Societe Generale bought a new position in shares of First Financial Bancorp during the second quarter worth about $172,000. 72.57% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About First Financial Bancorp

First Financial Bancorp. (First Financial) is a regional bank holding company. First Financial is engaged in the business of commercial banking and other banking and banking-related activities through its subsidiary, First Financial Bank, National Association (the Bank). The range of banking services provided by First Financial to individuals and businesses include commercial lending, real estate lending and consumer financing.

5 Day Chart for NASDAQ:FFBC

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