First Merchants Corporation (FRME) Rating Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report released on Friday, May 12th.

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

Separately, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $44.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants Corporation in a research note on Wednesday, April 5th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $36.50.

Shares of First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) traded down 2.91% during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $40.76. The stock had a trading volume of 337,451 shares. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $40.97 and a 200 day moving average price of $39.11. First Merchants Corporation has a 52-week low of $23.54 and a 52-week high of $43.48. The firm has a market cap of $1.67 billion, a PE ratio of 19.32 and a beta of 0.94.

First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, April 27th. The bank reported $0.56 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.52 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $75.85 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $76.65 million. First Merchants Corporation had a net margin of 26.67% and a return on equity of 9.57%. Equities analysts predict that First Merchants Corporation will post $2.27 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 16th. Investors of record on Friday, June 2nd were issued a $0.18 dividend. This represents a $0.72 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.77%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, May 31st. This is an increase from First Merchants Corporation’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.15. First Merchants Corporation’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 34.12%.

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In other news, Director Terry L. Walker sold 1,221 shares of First Merchants Corporation stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, June 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $42.30, for a total transaction of $51,648.30. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, insider Stephan Fluhler sold 1,800 shares of First Merchants Corporation stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, March 21st. The shares were sold at an average price of $38.60, for a total transaction of $69,480.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders purchased a total of 94 shares of company stock worth $3,832 in the last quarter. Insiders own 1.41% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in First Merchants Corporation by 17,626.9% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,402,680 shares of the bank’s stock worth $133,795,000 after buying an additional 3,383,485 shares during the period. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its position in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 0.9% in the first quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 3,082,813 shares of the bank’s stock worth $121,217,000 after buying an additional 28,326 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 5.4% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 1,787,054 shares of the bank’s stock worth $70,268,000 after buying an additional 91,051 shares in the last quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. increased its position in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 0.3% in the first quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 1,697,507 shares of the bank’s stock worth $66,746,000 after buying an additional 4,432 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. increased its position in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 1.0% in the third quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 1,129,118 shares of the bank’s stock worth $30,204,000 after buying an additional 10,685 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 78.62% of the company’s stock.

First Merchants Corporation Company Profile

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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