First Merchants (FRME) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to “Buy”

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued on Friday, January 12th. The firm presently has a $49.00 target price on the bank’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target suggests a potential upside of 10.78% from the company’s previous close.

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 research firms have also issued reports on FRME. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods restated a “buy” rating and issued a $47.00 target price on shares of First Merchants in a report on Sunday, October 29th. BidaskClub upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, January 11th. Piper Jaffray Companies reiterated a “neutral” rating and set a $46.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants in a report on Friday, October 6th. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Sunday, December 31st. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $47.33.

Shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ FRME) traded up $0.57 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $44.23. 138,140 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 215,715. The stock has a market capitalization of $2,179.97, a PE ratio of 20.29, a PEG ratio of 2.27 and a beta of 0.91. First Merchants has a 1 year low of $35.26 and a 1 year high of $45.42. The company has a current ratio of 0.93, a quick ratio of 0.93 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.43.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The bank reported $0.50 EPS for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.55 by ($0.05). First Merchants had a net margin of 26.28% and a return on equity of 9.56%. The business had revenue of $93.09 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $97.45 million. sell-side analysts expect that First Merchants will post 2.27 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In other First Merchants news, Director Terry L. Walker acquired 3,176 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, December 15th. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $42.69 per share, for a total transaction of $135,583.44. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, Director Michael C. Marhenke acquired 2,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 29th. The shares were acquired at an average price of $43.68 per share, with a total value of $87,360.00. Following the completion of the purchase, the director now owns 33,543 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,465,158.24. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. In the last three months, insiders have acquired 5,200 shares of company stock worth $223,978. 1.41% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of FRME. Boston Partners acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at $21,120,000. Schroder Investment Management Group purchased a new stake in First Merchants in the 2nd quarter worth $11,991,000. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in First Merchants by 7.8% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,666,493 shares of the bank’s stock worth $147,175,000 after acquiring an additional 263,813 shares in the last quarter. Koch Industries Inc. purchased a new stake in First Merchants in the 2nd quarter worth $242,000. Finally, First Merchants Corp increased its holdings in First Merchants by 624.9% in the 3rd quarter. First Merchants Corp now owns 199,976 shares of the bank’s stock worth $8,585,000 after acquiring an additional 172,389 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 69.59% of the company’s stock.

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First Merchants Company Profile

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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