First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) Lowered to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRMEGet Rating) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report sent to investors on Monday, 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. “

Separately, StockNews.com assumed coverage on shares of First Merchants in a report on Thursday, March 31st. They issued a hold rating for the company. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. According to MarketBeat.com, the company presently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average price target of $47.00.

First Merchants stock opened at $39.29 on Monday. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $41.90 and a 200 day moving average of $42.36. The firm has a market capitalization of $2.11 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 10.31 and a beta of 1.10. First Merchants has a 12-month low of $37.67 and a 12-month high of $48.59. The company has a current ratio of 0.76, a quick ratio of 0.75 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.24.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRMEGet Rating) last released its earnings results on Tuesday, April 26th. The bank reported $0.91 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.87 by $0.04. First Merchants had a net margin of 36.71% and a return on equity of 10.79%. During the same period last year, the business posted $0.91 earnings per share. On average, analysts predict that First Merchants will post 3.78 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, March 18th. Shareholders of record on Friday, March 4th were issued a dividend of $0.29 per share. This represents a $1.16 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.95%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, March 3rd. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 30.45%.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in FRME. First Trust Advisors LP grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 5.7% in the first quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 168,710 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $6,217,000 after purchasing an additional 9,071 shares in the last quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. purchased a new position in shares of First Merchants in the first quarter valued at $151,000. Morgan Stanley grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 26.9% in the second quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 91,033 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $3,793,000 after purchasing an additional 19,320 shares in the last quarter. Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 38.6% in the third quarter. Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. now owns 25,215 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $1,055,000 after purchasing an additional 7,028 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Russell Investments Group Ltd. grew its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 8.8% in the third quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 363,496 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $15,206,000 after purchasing an additional 29,487 shares in the last quarter. 73.79% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

About First Merchants (Get Rating)

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 public finance. The company also offers personal and corporate trust; brokerage and private wealth management; and letters of credit, repurchase agreements, and other corporate services.

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