Zacks Investment Research Upgrades First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) to Hold

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Thursday, Zacks.com reports.

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. “

Several other research firms have also weighed in on FFBC. ValuEngine raised First Financial Bancorp from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, October 2nd. BidaskClub upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, September 12th. Finally, Piper Jaffray Companies upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a “neutral” rating to an “overweight” rating and lifted their target price for the stock from $28.00 to $29.00 in a research note on Thursday, June 20th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Financial Bancorp currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $28.50.

NASDAQ:FFBC opened at $23.95 on Thursday. The firm has a market capitalization of $2.35 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 10.45 and a beta of 1.25. First Financial Bancorp has a twelve month low of $22.07 and a twelve month high of $28.59. The stock’s 50 day moving average price is $24.04 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $24.07. The company has a quick ratio of 0.93, a current ratio of 0.93 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.73.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 18th. The bank reported $0.58 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.57 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $156.94 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $153.34 million. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 10.45% and a net margin of 28.03%. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.57 EPS. As a group, analysts anticipate that First Financial Bancorp will post 2.12 earnings per share for the current year.

In other First Financial Bancorp news, Director Vince Berta bought 1,500 shares of First Financial Bancorp stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, August 27th. The stock was bought at an average cost of $22.45 per share, for a total transaction of $33,675.00. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, insider Richard S. Dennen sold 5,000 shares of First Financial Bancorp stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, July 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $25.61, for a total value of $128,050.00. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 80,641 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,065,216.01. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 54,077 shares of company stock valued at $1,372,473 over the last quarter. 2.00% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in FFBC. Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc. boosted its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 9.2% in the 1st quarter. Cambridge Investment Research Advisors Inc. now owns 22,438 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $540,000 after purchasing an additional 1,899 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. boosted its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 5.4% in the 1st quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 14,311,731 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $344,339,000 after purchasing an additional 735,295 shares during the period. Jennison Associates LLC boosted its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 53.4% in the 1st quarter. Jennison Associates LLC now owns 41,579 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $1,000,000 after purchasing an additional 14,475 shares during the period. Nordea Investment Management AB boosted its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 3.7% in the 1st quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 168,570 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $4,056,000 after purchasing an additional 5,973 shares during the period. Finally, Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund boosted its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 1.8% in the 2nd quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 38,619 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $935,000 after purchasing an additional 700 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 73.92% of the company’s stock.

About First Financial Bancorp

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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