Stephens upgraded shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) from an equal weight rating to an overweight rating in a research report released on Tuesday morning, Benzinga reports. The firm currently has $44.00 price objective on the bank’s stock.

Several other analysts also recently issued reports on the company. BidaskClub upgraded YRC Worldwide from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Saturday, April 13th. Raymond James restated a buy rating on shares of First Quantum Minerals in a research report on Monday, April 8th. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $44.00 target price on First Merchants and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, April 10th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded DLH from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report on Tuesday. Finally, Hovde Group began coverage on First Merchants in a research report on Wednesday, May 22nd. They set a market perform rating and a $39.00 target price on the stock. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have given a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $43.33.

Shares of NASDAQ:FRME opened at $37.60 on Tuesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33, a current ratio of 0.91 and a quick ratio of 0.91. First Merchants has a 52-week low of $32.49 and a 52-week high of $50.44. The firm has a fifty day moving average of $35.94. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.87 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.68, a P/E/G ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 1.04.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 25th. The bank reported $0.78 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by ($0.02). First Merchants had a net margin of 32.34% and a return on equity of 11.59%. The company had revenue of $103.58 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $107.28 million. Sell-side analysts forecast that First Merchants will post 3.31 EPS for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 21st. Investors of record on Monday, May 20th were given a dividend of $0.26 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, May 17th. This is an increase from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.77%. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is 32.30%.

In related news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total transaction of $169,696.80. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Insiders have purchased 76 shares of company stock worth $2,656 over the last quarter. 1.30% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Brown Advisory Inc. raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 1.1% in the 4th quarter. Brown Advisory Inc. now owns 42,216 shares of the bank’s stock worth $1,447,000 after purchasing an additional 472 shares during the period. Strs Ohio purchased a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 1st quarter worth about $25,000. Alps Advisors Inc. raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 8.5% in the 1st quarter. Alps Advisors Inc. now owns 10,209 shares of the bank’s stock worth $376,000 after purchasing an additional 800 shares during the period. Resources Investment Advisors Inc. purchased a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 4th quarter worth about $29,000. Finally, Systematic Financial Management LP raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 1.3% in the 1st quarter. Systematic Financial Management LP now owns 65,610 shares of the bank’s stock worth $2,418,000 after purchasing an additional 840 shares during the period. Institutional investors own 73.40% of the company’s stock.

First Merchants Company Profile

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 rents safe deposit facilities.

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Analyst Recommendations for First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME)

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