First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) Upgraded at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report sent to investors on Wednesday morning. The firm currently has $24.00 price target on the stock.

According to Zacks, “First Financial Bancorp., is a financial holding company that engages in the business of commercial banking, and other permissible activities that are financial in nature, through seventeen wholly owned subsidiary institutions. Bancorp provides management and similar services for its subsidiary financial institutions. Bancorp must depend largely upon its seventeen subsidiaries for funds with which to pay the expenses of its operation and, to the extent applicable, any dividends on its outstanding shares of stock. “

A number of other research firms have also recently issued reports on FFBC. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods lifted their target price on First Financial Bancorp from $19.00 to $21.00 and gave the company a market perform rating in a research report on Monday, July 25th. Raymond James Financial Inc. lowered First Financial Bancorp from an outperform rating to a market perform rating in a research note on Thursday, October 6th. Jefferies Group reissued a hold rating and set a $21.00 price target on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research note on Thursday, July 7th. Barclays PLC lifted their price target on First Financial Bancorp from $19.00 to $20.00 and gave the company an underweight rating in a research note on Monday, July 25th. Finally, Hilliard Lyons lowered First Financial Bancorp from a buy rating to a neutral rating in a research note on Monday, July 25th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $20.81.

Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC)

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) opened at 21.10 on Wednesday. First Financial Bancorp has a 52-week low of $13.76 and a 52-week high of $22.53. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.31 billion, a P/E ratio of 16.23 and a beta of 1.19. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $21.74 and its 200-day moving average is $20.25.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $0.36 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.34 by $0.02. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 9.82% and a net margin of 22.23%. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $0.31 EPS. On average, equities analysts expect that First Financial Bancorp will post $1.41 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, October 3rd. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 2nd were issued a $0.16 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 31st. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.03%. First Financial Bancorp’s payout ratio is currently 49.23%.

In other news, COO Anthony M. Stollings sold 13,081 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, August 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $21.11, for a total transaction of $276,139.91. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, EVP Holly M. Foster sold 2,021 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Friday, August 5th. The shares were sold at an average price of $21.84, for a total value of $44,138.64. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 4,979 shares in the company, valued at approximately $108,741.36. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 2.19% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 4.5% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 4,949,538 shares of the company’s stock worth $96,269,000 after buying an additional 213,416 shares in the last quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors boosted its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 4.9% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 4,046,332 shares of the company’s stock worth $78,701,000 after buying an additional 190,106 shares during the period. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP boosted its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 5.2% in the second quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 2,826,788 shares of the company’s stock worth $54,980,000 after buying an additional 140,364 shares during the period. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. boosted its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 30.9% in the second quarter. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. now owns 2,616,200 shares of the company’s stock worth $50,886,000 after buying an additional 617,425 shares during the period. Finally, Macquarie Group Ltd. boosted its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 3.4% in the second quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 2,480,615 shares of the company’s stock worth $48,248,000 after buying an additional 82,471 shares during the period. 72.66% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

First Financial Bancorp Company Profile

First Financial Bancorp. (First Financial) is a regional bank holding company. First Financial is engaged in the business of commercial banking and other banking and banking-related activities through its subsidiary, First Financial Bank, National Association (the Bank). The range of banking services provided by First Financial to individuals and businesses include commercial lending, real estate lending and consumer financing.

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