First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) Short Interest Up 23.0% in April

First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRMEGet Rating) saw a large increase in short interest during the month of April. As of April 30th, there was short interest totalling 811,000 shares, an increase of 23.0% from the April 15th total of 659,300 shares. Based on an average trading volume of 276,500 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 2.9 days.

Shares of NASDAQ FRME opened at $39.82 on Wednesday. The company has a current ratio of 0.75, a quick ratio of 0.75 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.24. First Merchants has a 12-month low of $37.67 and a 12-month high of $47.63. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $41.14 and its 200-day moving average price is $42.13. The stock has a market capitalization of $2.37 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 10.45 and a beta of 1.07.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRMEGet Rating) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, April 26th. The bank reported $0.88 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.87 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $128.18 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $131.07 million. First Merchants had a return on equity of 10.79% and a net margin of 36.71%. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.91 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts predict that First Merchants will post 3.76 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, June 17th. Investors of record on Friday, June 3rd will be issued a dividend of $0.32 per share. This represents a $1.28 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.21%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, June 2nd. This is a positive change from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.29. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is presently 30.45%.

A number of research analysts have recently weighed in on FRME shares. Zacks Investment Research lowered First Merchants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, May 2nd. StockNews.com assumed coverage on First Merchants in a research note on Thursday, March 31st. They issued a “hold” rating on the stock. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. Based on data from MarketBeat, the company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $47.00.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Jane Street Group LLC purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the first quarter valued at $255,000. Point72 Hong Kong Ltd bought a new position in First Merchants during the 1st quarter valued at about $50,000. Royal Bank of Canada raised its position in First Merchants by 32.8% in the 1st quarter. Royal Bank of Canada now owns 27,040 shares of the bank’s stock worth $1,125,000 after purchasing an additional 6,676 shares during the period. Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd lifted its stake in First Merchants by 36.5% in the first quarter. Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd now owns 8,190 shares of the bank’s stock worth $341,000 after purchasing an additional 2,190 shares during the last quarter. Finally, State Street Corp boosted its position in shares of First Merchants by 7.9% during the first quarter. State Street Corp now owns 1,882,370 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $78,307,000 after buying an additional 137,877 shares during the period. 73.79% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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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