First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) was the target of a large decline in short interest in July. As of July 31st, there was short interest totalling 1,246,400 shares, a decline of 6.5% from the June 30th total of 1,332,400 shares. Approximately 2.5% of the shares of the stock are short sold. Based on an average trading volume of 266,100 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 4.7 days.
FRME has been the topic of a number of recent analyst reports. ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, August 1st. Stephens upgraded shares of First Merchants from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and set a $44.00 price target on the stock in a research report on Tuesday, July 9th. Hovde Group initiated coverage on shares of First Merchants in a research report on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a “market perform” rating and a $39.00 price target on the stock. Finally, Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 24th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $43.33.
In other news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total transaction of $169,696.80. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Over the last quarter, insiders have bought 105 shares of company stock worth $3,803. 1.30% of the stock is owned by company insiders.
NASDAQ:FRME traded up $0.99 on Friday, reaching $36.55. The stock had a trading volume of 119,172 shares, compared to its average volume of 211,760. The company has a market capitalization of $1.84 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.35, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 1.03. First Merchants has a 1-year low of $32.49 and a 1-year high of $49.85. The company has a quick ratio of 0.91, a current ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.40. The stock has a fifty day moving average price of $37.57 and a 200-day moving average price of $37.54.
First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 25th. The bank reported $0.83 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $106.89 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $109.10 million. First Merchants had a net margin of 31.66% and a return on equity of 11.36%. Sell-side analysts predict that First Merchants will post 3.22 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 20th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 6th will be paid a $0.26 dividend. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.85%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 5th. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is presently 32.30%.
About First Merchants
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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