First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) Lifted to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has a $30.00 target price on the bank’s stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price objective points to a potential upside of 5.26% from the stock’s previous close.

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. “

A number of other research analysts also recently commented on the stock. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $27.00 price objective on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research report on Monday, April 10th. DA Davidson began coverage on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research report on Thursday, March 23rd. They issued a “buy” rating and a $30.00 price objective for the company. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Financial Bancorp has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $26.17.

Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC)

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) opened at 28.50 on Tuesday. The company has a 50 day moving average price of $27.28 and a 200 day moving average price of $26.52. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.77 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.96 and a beta of 1.18. First Financial Bancorp has a 12 month low of $18.00 and a 12 month high of $29.80.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last released its earnings results on Thursday, April 20th. The bank reported $0.39 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.35 by $0.04. The business earned $86.30 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $86.84 million. First Financial Bancorp had a net margin of 23.57% and a return on equity of 10.42%. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $0.32 earnings per share. Equities research analysts predict that First Financial Bancorp will post $1.54 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 3rd. Shareholders of record on Friday, June 2nd will be paid a $0.17 dividend. This represents a $0.68 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.39%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, May 31st. First Financial Bancorp’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 44.76%.

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Several institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. BlackRock Fund Advisors boosted its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 8.3% in the third quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 4,384,049 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $95,748,000 after buying an additional 337,717 shares during the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP boosted its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 3.6% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 3,026,362 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $86,099,000 after buying an additional 103,860 shares during the last quarter. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. boosted its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 7.5% in the third quarter. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. now owns 2,812,725 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $61,430,000 after buying an additional 196,525 shares during the last quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. boosted its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 0.6% in the third quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 2,205,082 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $48,158,000 after buying an additional 12,864 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Northern Trust Corp boosted its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 1.1% in the third quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,910,484 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $41,725,000 after buying an additional 21,623 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 73.20% of the company’s stock.

First Financial Bancorp Company Profile

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.

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