Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) Lifted to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a research report report published on Friday morning, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Business First Bancshares Inc. provides commercial and personal banking services to small to midsize businesses. Its services includes checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit, individual retirement accounts, consumer loans, commercial and non-profit checking, commercial interest checking, business sweep investment, essential business checking, business value checking accounts, business loans, cash management and merchant processing and other services. The company operates primarily in Baton Rouge, Brusly, Covington, Denham Springs, Erwinville, Gonzales, Houma, Lafayette, New Orleans, Shreveport, Port Allen, Zachary and Lake Charles, Louisiana as well as Dallas, Texas. Business First Bancshares Inc. is based in Clayton, United States. “

Several other brokerages have also recently weighed in on BFST. Stephens cut Business First Bancshares from an overweight rating to an equal weight rating and set a $27.00 price target on the stock. in a research note on Tuesday, July 9th. ValuEngine cut Business First Bancshares from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note on Thursday, August 1st. FIG Partners reaffirmed an outperform rating on shares of Business First Bancshares in a research note on Thursday, April 25th. Finally, DA Davidson reaffirmed a neutral rating on shares of Business First Bancshares in a research note on Monday, July 22nd. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $27.67.

BFST opened at $22.67 on Friday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.95, a current ratio of 0.95 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.20. Business First Bancshares has a 52-week low of $20.64 and a 52-week high of $27.40. The stock has a market capitalization of $324.02 million, a PE ratio of 14.79 and a beta of 0.18. The company’s 50 day simple moving average is $25.16.

Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) last posted its earnings results on Wednesday, July 24th. The company reported $0.48 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.43 by $0.05. Business First Bancshares had a return on equity of 8.63% and a net margin of 19.47%. The firm had revenue of $24.41 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $22.12 million. As a group, analysts forecast that Business First Bancshares will post 1.81 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Saturday, August 31st. Investors of record on Thursday, August 15th will be paid a $0.10 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, August 14th. This represents a $0.40 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.76%. Business First Bancshares’s payout ratio is 27.59%.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the stock. New York State Common Retirement Fund grew its stake in Business First Bancshares by 14.2% in the fourth quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 12,100 shares of the company’s stock worth $293,000 after purchasing an additional 1,500 shares during the period. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA boosted its holdings in Business First Bancshares by 431.1% in the first quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 2,257 shares of the company’s stock worth $55,000 after acquiring an additional 1,832 shares in the last quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY boosted its holdings in Business First Bancshares by 192.6% in the fourth quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY now owns 3,467 shares of the company’s stock worth $84,000 after acquiring an additional 2,282 shares in the last quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. bought a new stake in Business First Bancshares in the second quarter worth $61,000. Finally, Bank of America Corp DE boosted its holdings in Business First Bancshares by 81.5% in the fourth quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 7,299 shares of the company’s stock worth $177,000 after acquiring an additional 3,278 shares in the last quarter. 43.18% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Business First Bancshares Company Profile

Business First Bancshares, Inc operates as the bank holding company for Business First Bank that provides various banking products and services. It offers various deposit products and services, including a range of checking, demand, money market, time, and savings accounts, as well as certificates of deposit; and remote deposit capture and direct deposit services.

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