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

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Friday. The firm currently has a $49.00 price objective on the bank’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would indicate a potential upside of 10.86% from the stock’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. “

FRME has been the subject of a number of other research reports. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods restated a “buy” rating and issued a $47.00 price target on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Sunday, October 29th. ValuEngine upgraded First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Sunday, December 31st. Piper Jaffray Companies restated a “neutral” rating and issued a $46.00 price target on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Friday, October 6th. Finally, BidaskClub upgraded First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $47.33.

Shares of First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) traded up $0.31 during mid-day trading on Friday, hitting $44.20. The stock had a trading volume of 267,235 shares, compared to its average volume of 236,629. First Merchants has a twelve month low of $35.26 and a twelve month high of $45.42. The stock has a market capitalization of $2,172.12, a PE ratio of 19.30, a P/E/G ratio of 2.26 and a beta of 0.91. 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 announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 26th. The bank reported $0.50 earnings per share for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.55 by ($0.05). First Merchants had a net margin of 26.28% and a return on equity of 9.56%. The firm had revenue of $93.09 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $97.45 million. analysts forecast that First Merchants will post 2.26 EPS for the current year.

In related news, President Michael C. Rechin sold 5,332 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, November 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $41.41, for a total transaction of $220,798.12. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, Director Michael C. Marhenke acquired 2,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 29th. The shares were bought at an average price of $43.68 per share, with a total value of $87,360.00. Following the transaction, 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 quarter, insiders have purchased 5,200 shares of company stock valued at $223,978. 1.41% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of FRME. Advisor Group Inc. increased its position in First Merchants by 8.3% during the 2nd quarter. Advisor Group Inc. now owns 2,981 shares of the bank’s stock worth $120,000 after purchasing an additional 228 shares in the last quarter. Quantbot Technologies LP increased its position in First Merchants by 2,048.6% during the 2nd quarter. Quantbot Technologies LP now owns 3,975 shares of the bank’s stock worth $159,000 after purchasing an additional 3,790 shares in the last quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. purchased a new stake in First Merchants during the 3rd quarter worth about $172,000. Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its position in First Merchants by 17.6% during the 2nd quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 5,155 shares of the bank’s stock worth $207,000 after purchasing an additional 771 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Amalgamated Bank increased its position in First Merchants by 1.1% during the 2nd quarter. Amalgamated Bank now owns 5,181 shares of the bank’s stock worth $208,000 after purchasing an additional 58 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 69.15% 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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