Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Monday, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Business First Bancshares Inc. provides commercial and personal banking services to small to midsize businesses. Its services includes checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, consumer loans, commercial and non-profit checking, commercial interest checking, business sweep investment, essential business checking, business value checking accounts, business loans, cash management and merchant processing and other services. The company operates primarily in Baton Rouge, Brusly, Covington, Denham Springs, Erwinville, Gonzales, Houma, Lafayette, New Orleans, Shreveport, Port Allen, Zachary and Lake Charles, Louisiana as well as Dallas, Texas. Business First Bancshares Inc. is based in Clayton, United States. “

A number of other equities research analysts have also commented on the stock. Stephens reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $29.00 price target on shares of Business First Bancshares in a report on Wednesday, January 30th. Raymond James lowered shares of Business First Bancshares from a “strong-buy” rating to an “outperform” rating in a report on Monday, January 7th.

Shares of Business First Bancshares stock traded down $0.24 during trading on Monday, reaching $24.65. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 5,037 shares, compared to its average volume of 15,561. Business First Bancshares has a 52-week low of $20.64 and a 52-week high of $30.00. The stock has a market capitalization of $327.30 million and a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.00. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.31, a quick ratio of 0.95 and a current ratio of 0.95.

Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, January 29th. The company reported $0.38 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.38. Business First Bancshares had a net margin of 16.78% and a return on equity of 7.77%. The company had revenue of $19.61 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $19.28 million. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Business First Bancshares will post 1.79 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other Business First Bancshares news, Director Norman Jerome Sr Vascocu, Sr. sold 6,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, March 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $24.03, for a total value of $144,180.00. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Norman Jerome Sr Vascocu, Sr. sold 5,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, February 27th. The stock was sold at an average price of $24.24, for a total transaction of $121,200.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold a total of 20,053 shares of company stock valued at $483,829 over the last quarter.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of BFST. Vanguard Group Inc raised its holdings in Business First Bancshares by 37.7% in the 3rd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 405,016 shares of the company’s stock worth $10,753,000 after purchasing an additional 110,932 shares in the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Business First Bancshares by 37.7% in the 3rd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 405,016 shares of the company’s stock worth $10,753,000 after acquiring an additional 110,932 shares in the last quarter. RMB Capital Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Business First Bancshares by 7.2% in the 4th quarter. RMB Capital Management LLC now owns 958,825 shares of the company’s stock worth $23,232,000 after acquiring an additional 64,338 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in shares of Business First Bancshares by 10.1% in the 3rd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 504,936 shares of the company’s stock worth $13,406,000 after acquiring an additional 46,499 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Alliancebernstein L.P. increased its stake in shares of Business First Bancshares by 75.7% in the 3rd quarter. Alliancebernstein L.P. now owns 66,204 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,758,000 after acquiring an additional 28,530 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 43.06% of the company’s stock.

Business First Bancshares Company Profile

Business First Bancshares, Inc operates as the bank holding company for Business First Bank that provides various banking products and services. It offers various deposit products and services, including a range of checking, demand, money market, time, and savings accounts, as well as certificates of deposit; and remote deposit capture and direct deposit services.

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