Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Monday. Zacks Investment Research currently has $37.00 target price on the stock.
According to Zacks, “FIRST MERCHANTS CORP. is a bank holding company engaged in conducting commercial banking business through the offices of its banking subsidiaries. “
A number of other research analysts also recently weighed in on FRME. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods raised their price objective on First Merchants from $27.00 to $28.50 and gave the company an outperform rating in a research note on Wednesday, July 27th. DA Davidson lifted their price target on First Merchants from $29.00 to $30.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, September 28th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus price target of $29.90.
Shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) opened at 34.17 on Monday. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $28.96 and a 200 day moving average price of $26.76. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.39 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.92 and a beta of 0.99. First Merchants has a 12 month low of $21.10 and a 12 month high of $34.28.
First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, October 25th. The company reported $0.51 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.49 by $0.02. First Merchants had a return on equity of 8.32% and a net margin of 23.59%. On average, analysts anticipate that First Merchants will post $1.93 EPS for the current fiscal year.
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 16th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 2nd will be given a dividend of $0.15 per share. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, November 30th. This is a boost from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.14. This represents a $0.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.76%. First Merchants’s payout ratio is currently 31.11%.
In other news, insider Mark K. Hardwick sold 7,700 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, November 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $33.14, for a total transaction of $255,178.00. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Insiders own 1.62% of the company’s stock.
Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. Teachers Advisors Inc. boosted its stake in First Merchants by 5.2% in the first quarter. Teachers Advisors Inc. now owns 74,610 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,759,000 after buying an additional 3,665 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. boosted its stake in First Merchants by 3.4% in the first quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 1,124,355 shares of the company’s stock worth $26,501,000 after buying an additional 37,002 shares in the last quarter. Virginia Retirement Systems ET AL purchased a new stake in First Merchants during the second quarter worth about $1,164,000. Bank of Montreal Can purchased a new stake in First Merchants during the second quarter worth about $1,766,000. Finally, Nordea Investment Management AB boosted its stake in First Merchants by 17.8% in the second quarter. Nordea Investment Management AB now owns 119,781 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,986,000 after buying an additional 18,112 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 76.37% of the company’s stock.
About First Merchants
First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding Company. The Company has a bank charter, First Merchants Bank, National Association (the Bank), which is opened for business in Muncie, Indiana. The Bank also operates Lafayette Bank and Trust, Ameriana Bank, Ameriana Financial Services and First Merchants Trust Company as divisions of First Merchants Bank, N.A.