Wall Street brokerages predict that First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) will post earnings of $0.78 per share for the current fiscal quarter, according to Zacks. Three analysts have provided estimates for First Merchants' earnings, with estimates ranging from $0.72 to $0.86. First Merchants reported earnings of $0.62 per share in the same quarter last year, which indicates a positive year-over-year growth rate of 25.8%. The firm is expected to issue its next earnings results before the market opens on Thursday, April 22nd.
According to Zacks, analysts expect that First Merchants will report full year earnings of $3.09 per share for the current fiscal year, with EPS estimates ranging from $2.90 to $3.23. For the next fiscal year, analysts expect that the firm will post earnings of $3.16 per share, with EPS estimates ranging from $3.06 to $3.29. Zacks' EPS averages are a mean average based on a survey of research firms that cover First Merchants.
First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, January 27th. The bank reported $0.83 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters' consensus estimate of $0.66 by $0.17. First Merchants had a net margin of 26.65% and a return on equity of 8.50%. The business had revenue of $129.79 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $119.95 million.
Several equities research analysts have recently issued reports on the company. Raymond James raised First Merchants from a "market perform" rating to an "outperform" rating and set a $46.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Monday, February 1st. Zacks Investment Research upgraded First Merchants from a "hold" rating to a "strong-buy" rating and set a $43.00 price target for the company in a research report on Tuesday, December 29th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of "Buy" and an average target price of $38.00.
In other news, Director Michael C. Marhenke sold 9,000 shares of the firm's stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, March 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $50.00, for a total transaction of $450,000.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 43,789 shares of the company's stock, valued at $2,189,450. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, Director William L. Hoy sold 4,500 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, March 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $43.53, for a total transaction of $195,885.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 1.30% of the company's stock.
A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. First Trust Advisors LP lifted its stake in shares of First Merchants by 5.7% during the 1st quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 168,710 shares of the bank's stock worth $6,217,000 after purchasing an additional 9,071 shares during the last quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in shares of First Merchants in the first quarter valued at about $151,000. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans acquired a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the third quarter worth $816,000. Arrowstreet Capital Limited Partnership acquired a new stake in First Merchants during the 3rd quarter worth about $2,593,000. Finally, Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc. raised its stake in shares of First Merchants by 3.0% during the 3rd quarter. Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc. now owns 407,920 shares of the bank's stock valued at $9,448,000 after buying an additional 11,994 shares during the last quarter. 69.06% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.
Shares of NASDAQ:FRME opened at $45.95 on Thursday. The company has a market cap of $2.50 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.53 and a beta of 1.32. First Merchants has a 12 month low of $21.18 and a 12 month high of $50.65. The company has a current ratio of 0.86, a quick ratio of 0.86 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.28. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $45.98 and a 200 day moving average price of $36.45.
The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, March 19th. Investors of record on Friday, March 5th were issued a dividend of $0.26 per share. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.26%. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, March 4th. First Merchants's payout ratio is currently 30.06%.
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. The company also offers personal and corporate trust; brokerage and private wealth management; and letters of credit, repurchase agreements, and other corporate services.
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