Boston Partners Grows Stock Position in First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME)

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Boston Partners raised its stake in shares of First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) by 0.1% in the fourth quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the SEC. The fund owned 703,137 shares of the bank’s stock after buying an additional 395 shares during the period. Boston Partners’ holdings in First Merchants were worth $29,227,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other hedge funds and other institutional investors also recently added to or reduced their stakes in FRME. Patriot Financial Partners GP LP purchased a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at about $21,324,000. First Merchants Corp increased its stake in shares of First Merchants by 166.5% in the 3rd quarter. First Merchants Corp now owns 665,926 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $25,061,000 after purchasing an additional 416,019 shares in the last quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. increased its stake in shares of First Merchants by 23.1% in the 4th quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 918,533 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $36,512,000 after purchasing an additional 172,353 shares in the last quarter. State of New Jersey Common Pension Fund D purchased a new position in shares of First Merchants in the 3rd quarter valued at about $4,674,000. Finally, Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. increased its stake in shares of First Merchants by 7.9% in the 4th quarter. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. now owns 1,378,097 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $57,316,000 after purchasing an additional 101,112 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 70.95% of the company’s stock.

FRME stock opened at $41.49 on Friday. The company has a current ratio of 0.87, a quick ratio of 0.87 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.28. First Merchants Co. has a 12-month low of $33.00 and a 12-month high of $42.48. The stock has a market cap of $2.31 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 13.01 and a beta of 1.08. The business’s 50-day moving average is $41.03 and its 200 day moving average is $39.29.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, January 30th. The bank reported $0.87 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.86 by $0.01. First Merchants had a return on equity of 10.60% and a net margin of 29.79%. The company had revenue of $121.83 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $122.20 million. As a group, equities analysts forecast that First Merchants Co. will post 3.35 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 20th. Investors of record on Friday, March 6th will be issued a $0.26 dividend. This represents a $1.04 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.51%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, March 5th. First Merchants’s payout ratio is 30.06%.

In related news, insider Jeffrey B. Lorentson sold 4,907 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, December 17th. The stock was sold at an average price of $41.89, for a total value of $205,554.23. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Michael J. Stewart sold 2,250 shares of First Merchants stock in a transaction dated Monday, November 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $40.99, for a total value of $92,227.50. Insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.

Several brokerages recently weighed in on FRME. ValuEngine upgraded First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday. Raymond James lifted their price target on First Merchants from $43.00 to $44.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research note on Monday, February 3rd. Zacks Investment Research upgraded First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, January 20th. Finally, BidaskClub lowered First Merchants from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Tuesday, January 14th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have assigned a hold rating and three have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $43.00.

First Merchants Profile

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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Want to see what other hedge funds are holding FRME? Visit HoldingsChannel.com to get the latest 13F filings and insider trades for First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME).

Institutional Ownership by Quarter for First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME)

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