Brokerages Set First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) Price Target at $43.40

Shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) have been assigned an average recommendation of “Buy” from the nine analysts that are presently covering the company, Marketbeat.com reports. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell recommendation, two have issued a hold recommendation and five have issued a buy recommendation on the company. The average 1-year price target among brokers that have issued ratings on the stock in the last year is $43.40.

A number of equities analysts have issued reports on the stock. Raymond James raised their price target on shares of First Merchants from $39.00 to $43.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a research report on Friday, October 25th. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 1st. BidaskClub raised shares of First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, October 31st. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, September 11th.

First Merchants stock traded up $0.11 during midday trading on Monday, hitting $41.28. 162,900 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 168,461. First Merchants has a 12 month low of $32.49 and a 12 month high of $42.82. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.28, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a current ratio of 0.87. The company has a market cap of $2.29 billion, a PE ratio of 12.82 and a beta of 1.05. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $38.77 and a two-hundred day moving average of $37.20.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 24th. The bank reported $0.88 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.80 by $0.08. First Merchants had a net margin of 29.88% and a return on equity of 10.36%. The company had revenue of $111.05 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $109.87 million. As a group, equities analysts expect that First Merchants will post 3.34 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, December 20th. Stockholders of record on Friday, December 6th will be paid a dividend of $0.26 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, December 5th. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.52%. First Merchants’s payout ratio is 32.30%.

In other news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 7,300 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, September 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $37.98, for a total transaction of $277,254.00. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, SVP Stephan Fluhler sold 3,873 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, September 19th. The stock was sold at an average price of $38.98, for a total transaction of $150,969.54. 1.30% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Earnest Partners LLC acquired a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $68,526,000. Panagora Asset Management Inc. grew its stake in shares of First Merchants by 72.7% during the 2nd quarter. Panagora Asset Management Inc. now owns 37,008 shares of the bank’s stock worth $1,403,000 after purchasing an additional 15,584 shares during the period. Rhumbline Advisers grew its stake in shares of First Merchants by 12.6% during the 3rd quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 104,645 shares of the bank’s stock worth $3,938,000 after purchasing an additional 11,725 shares during the period. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its stake in shares of First Merchants by 24.0% during the 2nd quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 168,959 shares of the bank’s stock worth $6,207,000 after purchasing an additional 32,727 shares during the period. Finally, LPL Financial LLC acquired a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 2nd quarter worth approximately $607,000. 75.87% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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