Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report released on Wednesday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $43.00 price objective on the bank’s 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. “

Several other equities research analysts also recently issued reports on FRME. Piper Jaffray Companies restated a hold rating on shares of First Merchants Corporation in a research note on Thursday, August 3rd. BidaskClub downgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note on Friday, June 2nd. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has issued a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $39.00.

Shares of First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) opened at 39.82 on Wednesday. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.96 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 18.18 and a beta of 0.92. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $39.78 and a 200-day moving average of $40.11. First Merchants Corporation has a one year low of $25.84 and a one year high of $43.48.

First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 27th. The bank reported $0.57 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.55 by $0.02. The business had revenue of $81.53 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $78.75 million. First Merchants Corporation had a net margin of 27.04% and a return on equity of 9.63%. On average, equities analysts anticipate that First Merchants Corporation will post $2.32 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 15th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 1st will be paid a dividend of $0.18 per share. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 30th. This represents a $0.72 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.81%. First Merchants Corporation’s dividend payout ratio is currently 32.88%.

In other First Merchants Corporation news, Director Terry L. Walker sold 1,221 shares of First Merchants Corporation stock in a transaction on Wednesday, June 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $42.30, for a total transaction of $51,648.30. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, insider Mark K. Hardwick sold 1,851 shares of First Merchants Corporation stock in a transaction on Wednesday, August 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $39.69, for a total transaction of $73,466.19. Following the sale, the insider now owns 75,120 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,981,512.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have acquired 65 shares of company stock worth $2,616 in the last quarter. Corporate insiders own 1.41% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently bought and sold shares of FRME. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. increased its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 116.1% in the first quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. now owns 14,264 shares of the bank’s stock worth $561,000 after buying an additional 7,664 shares in the last quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. increased its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 0.3% in the first quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 1,697,507 shares of the bank’s stock worth $66,746,000 after buying an additional 4,432 shares in the last quarter. Invictus RG acquired a new stake in First Merchants Corporation during the first quarter worth $196,000. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 17,626.9% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,402,680 shares of the bank’s stock worth $133,795,000 after buying an additional 3,383,485 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC increased its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 1.9% in the first quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 761,329 shares of the bank’s stock worth $29,935,000 after buying an additional 14,100 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 68.28% of the company’s stock.

About First Merchants Corporation

First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding company. The Company has a bank charter, First Merchants Bank (the Bank), which is opened for business in Muncie, Indiana. It operates through community banking business segment. The Bank also operates Lafayette Bank and Trust, and First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors (each as a division of First Merchants Bank).

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