Employees Retirement System of Texas trimmed its position in First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) by 30.5% during the fourth quarter, HoldingsChannel reports. The firm owned 41,000 shares of the bank’s stock after selling 18,000 shares during the period. Employees Retirement System of Texas’ holdings in First Merchants were worth $1,724,000 as of its most recent SEC filing.
Other institutional investors and hedge funds have also recently made changes to their positions in the company. Macquarie Group Ltd. acquired a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at $172,000. Ullmann Financial Group Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the 4th quarter valued at $235,000. Trexquant Investment LP acquired a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at $243,000. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA raised its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 23.4% in the 3rd quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 6,947 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $298,000 after purchasing an additional 1,317 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Commonwealth Equity Services Inc acquired a new stake in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at $472,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 68.87% of the company’s stock.
In related news, Director Terry L. Walker purchased 3,176 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, December 15th. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $42.69 per share, for a total transaction of $135,583.44. The purchase was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this link. Insiders have purchased a total of 3,199 shares of company stock worth $136,578 over the last quarter. 1.41% of the stock is owned by company insiders.
First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, January 25th. The bank reported $0.61 EPS for the quarter, hitting the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.61. First Merchants had a net margin of 24.90% and a return on equity of 9.95%. The firm had revenue of $97.83 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $98.30 million. analysts predict that First Merchants Co. will post 2.97 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 16th. Investors of record on Friday, March 2nd will be paid a dividend of $0.18 per share. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, March 1st. This represents a $0.72 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.70%. First Merchants’s dividend payout ratio is currently 33.96%.
A number of equities research analysts have recently weighed in on FRME shares. Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of First Merchants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, November 2nd. ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report on Sunday, December 31st. BidaskClub upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Thursday, January 11th. Piper Jaffray Companies restated a “hold” rating and issued a $48.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants in a report on Sunday, January 28th. Finally, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods restated a “buy” rating and issued a $52.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants in a report on Thursday, January 25th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have given a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $49.67.
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First Merchants Company Profile
First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding company. The Company has a bank charter, First Merchants Bank (the Bank), which is opened for business in Muncie, Indiana. It operates through community banking business segment. The Bank also operates Lafayette Bank and Trust, and First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors (each as a division of First Merchants Bank).
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