First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) Short Interest Up 9.0% in June

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First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) was the target of a large growth in short interest in June. As of June 30th, there was short interest totalling 1,376,600 shares, a growth of 9.0% from the May 30th total of 1,263,100 shares. Currently, 2.8% of the shares of the company are sold short. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 255,000 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 5.4 days.

FRME has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. Stephens initiated coverage on shares of LiqTech International in a research note on Tuesday, July 9th. They issued an “overweight” rating and a $13.00 price objective for the company. BidaskClub upgraded shares of YRC Worldwide from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Saturday, April 13th. Hovde Group initiated coverage on shares of First Merchants in a research note on Wednesday, May 22nd. They issued a “market perform” rating and a $39.00 price objective for the company. Piper Jaffray Companies set a $44.00 price objective on shares of First Merchants and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, April 10th. Finally, Raymond James reiterated a “buy” rating on shares of First Quantum Minerals in a research note on Monday, April 8th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $43.33.

Shares of FRME traded up $0.01 during mid-day trading on Tuesday, reaching $37.16. 1,268 shares of the stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 331,075. The business has a fifty day simple moving average of $36.19. The firm has a market cap of $1.88 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.54, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.63 and a beta of 1.04. The company has a current ratio of 0.91, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.33. First Merchants has a 1 year low of $32.49 and a 1 year high of $50.44.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 25th. The bank reported $0.78 EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.80 by ($0.02). The firm had revenue of $103.58 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $107.28 million. First Merchants had a net margin of 32.34% and a return on equity of 11.59%. Equities analysts anticipate that First Merchants will post 3.31 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, June 21st. Stockholders of record on Monday, May 20th were given a dividend of $0.26 per share. This is a positive change from First Merchants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.80%. The ex-dividend date was Friday, May 17th. First Merchants’s payout ratio is 32.30%.

In related news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 4,680 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, June 18th. The shares were sold at an average price of $36.26, for a total value of $169,696.80. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Insiders purchased a total of 76 shares of company stock valued at $2,656 over the last quarter. 1.30% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Strs Ohio bought a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 1st quarter worth $25,000. Bessemer Group Inc. bought a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 4th quarter worth $67,000. Denali Advisors LLC bought a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 2nd quarter worth $125,000. Bank of Montreal Can lifted its holdings in shares of First Merchants by 106.4% during the 1st quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 3,953 shares of the bank’s stock worth $146,000 after acquiring an additional 2,038 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. bought a new stake in shares of First Merchants during the 1st quarter worth $151,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.38% of the company’s stock.

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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