Business First Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:BFST) Short Interest Up 61.1% in March

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Business First Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:BFST) was the target of a significant increase in short interest in March. As of March 13th, there was short interest totalling 47,200 shares, an increase of 61.1% from the February 27th total of 29,300 shares. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 27,900 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is currently 1.7 days. Approximately 0.4% of the company’s stock are sold short.

A number of research firms recently issued reports on BFST. Zacks Investment Research upgraded Business First Bancshares from a “hold” rating to a “strong-buy” rating and set a $29.00 price objective for the company in a report on Friday, January 31st. ValuEngine upgraded Business First Bancshares from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, March 4th. BidaskClub downgraded Business First Bancshares from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Saturday, March 7th. Stephens upgraded Business First Bancshares from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and raised their price target for the company from $28.00 to $31.00 in a research note on Monday, January 27th. Finally, TheStreet downgraded Business First Bancshares from a “c” rating to a “d+” rating in a research note on Monday, March 16th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, three have given a buy rating and two have assigned a strong buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $29.63.

Institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Bank of Montreal Can lifted its position in shares of Business First Bancshares by 45.0% in the fourth quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 1,585 shares of the company’s stock valued at $40,000 after buying an additional 492 shares during the last quarter. Citigroup Inc. lifted its position in shares of Business First Bancshares by 65.2% in the fourth quarter. Citigroup Inc. now owns 2,503 shares of the company’s stock valued at $62,000 after buying an additional 988 shares during the last quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. lifted its position in shares of Business First Bancshares by 66.4% in the third quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 2,995 shares of the company’s stock valued at $73,000 after buying an additional 1,195 shares during the last quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY lifted its position in shares of Business First Bancshares by 34.8% in the third quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co NY now owns 4,674 shares of the company’s stock valued at $114,000 after buying an additional 1,207 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC lifted its position in shares of Business First Bancshares by 53.7% in the fourth quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 12,606 shares of the company’s stock valued at $314,000 after buying an additional 4,402 shares during the last quarter. 44.65% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

BFST stock opened at $14.87 on Friday. The company has a quick ratio of 1.00, a current ratio of 1.00 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.41. The business has a 50 day moving average price of $20.81 and a two-hundred day moving average price of $23.69. The company has a market cap of $137.74 million, a price-to-earnings ratio of 8.60 and a beta of 0.24. Business First Bancshares has a twelve month low of $9.17 and a twelve month high of $26.64.

Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Wednesday, January 22nd. The company reported $0.45 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.47 by ($0.02). The company had revenue of $22.88 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $23.05 million. Business First Bancshares had a net margin of 20.82% and a return on equity of 8.85%. On average, equities research analysts anticipate that Business First Bancshares will post 2.04 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, February 28th. Stockholders of record on Saturday, February 15th were given a $0.10 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, February 13th. This represents a $0.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.69%. Business First Bancshares’s payout ratio is 22.22%.

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.

Further Reading: Cash Asset Ratio

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