First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) Short Interest Update

First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) was the recipient of a large drop in short interest in July. As of July 31st, there was short interest totalling 1,246,400 shares, a drop of 6.5% from the June 30th total of 1,332,400 shares. Currently, 2.5% of the shares of the stock are sold short. Based on an average daily volume of 266,100 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 4.7 days.

In related news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of First Merchants 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 legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. In the last quarter, insiders have purchased 105 shares of company stock valued at $3,803. 1.30% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in FRME. Earnest Partners LLC acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 2nd quarter valued at about $68,526,000. Nuveen Asset Management LLC acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 2nd quarter valued at about $20,495,000. Norges Bank acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 4th quarter valued at about $16,402,000. BlackRock Inc. lifted its stake in shares of First Merchants by 6.8% in the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 4,076,244 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $154,490,000 after purchasing an additional 258,850 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company MN lifted its stake in shares of First Merchants by 79.6% in the 2nd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 505,160 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $19,146,000 after purchasing an additional 223,954 shares in the last quarter. 73.70% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.



A number of analysts recently commented on FRME shares. Stephens upgraded First Merchants from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and set a $44.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Tuesday, July 9th. Zacks Investment Research upgraded First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 24th. 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 price objective for the company. Finally, ValuEngine raised First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, August 1st. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $43.33.

NASDAQ:FRME traded up $0.02 during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $36.02. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 2,943 shares, compared to its average volume of 232,006. The stock’s fifty day moving average price is $37.58. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.40, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a current ratio of 0.91. First Merchants has a twelve month low of $32.49 and a twelve month high of $49.85. The company has a market cap of $1.82 billion, a PE ratio of 11.20, a P/E/G ratio of 1.62 and a beta of 1.03.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 25th. The bank reported $0.83 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates 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 return on equity of 11.36% and a net margin of 31.66%. On average, equities analysts predict that First Merchants will post 3.23 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 20th. Stockholders of record on Friday, September 6th will be paid a $0.26 dividend. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.89%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, September 5th. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is currently 32.30%.

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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