First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) Upgraded to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBCGet Rating) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday, Zacks.com reports. The firm currently has $23.00 price target on the bank’s stock.

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. “

Separately, StockNews.com assumed coverage on shares of First Financial Bancorp. in a report on Thursday, March 31st. They issued a hold rating on the stock.

First Financial Bancorp. stock opened at $20.85 on Tuesday. The firm has a market cap of $1.97 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 9.98 and a beta of 1.05. First Financial Bancorp. has a 52-week low of $20.34 and a 52-week high of $26.83. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.26, a quick ratio of 0.79 and a current ratio of 0.79. The business’s 50 day simple moving average is $22.95.

First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBCGet Rating) last released its earnings results on Thursday, April 21st. The bank reported $0.46 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.45 by $0.01. First Financial Bancorp. had a net margin of 30.78% and a return on equity of 9.63%. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.50 EPS. Analysts predict that First Financial Bancorp. will post 2.02 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Wednesday, June 15th. Investors of record on Wednesday, June 1st will be paid a dividend of $0.23 per share. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, May 31st. This represents a $0.92 annualized dividend and a yield of 4.41%. First Financial Bancorp.’s dividend payout ratio is currently 44.02%.

In other First Financial Bancorp. news, Director Vince Berta acquired 2,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Tuesday, April 26th. The shares were bought at an average cost of $20.99 per share, with a total value of $41,980.00. Following the transaction, the director now owns 27,494 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $577,099.06. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, CEO Archie M. Brown, Jr. acquired 5,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Friday, April 29th. The shares were acquired at an average cost of $20.55 per share, for a total transaction of $102,750.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 195,452 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,016,538.60. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. 2.11% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. CWM LLC grew its position in First Financial Bancorp. by 225.7% during the 1st quarter. CWM LLC now owns 2,374 shares of the bank’s stock worth $55,000 after purchasing an additional 1,645 shares during the last quarter. Point72 Hong Kong Ltd purchased a new stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp. in the third quarter valued at about $86,000. First Horizon Advisors Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 1,687.6% in the third quarter. First Horizon Advisors Inc. now owns 2,449 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $88,000 after acquiring an additional 2,312 shares in the last quarter. Econ Financial Services Corp purchased a new stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp. in the first quarter valued at about $121,000. Finally, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co. purchased a new stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp. in the fourth quarter valued at about $141,000. 74.13% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

First Financial Bancorp. Company Profile (Get Rating)

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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