Earnest Partners LLC Invests $68.53 Million in First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME)

Earnest Partners LLC acquired a new position in First Merchants Co. (NASDAQ:FRME) in the second quarter, according to its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund acquired 1,808,083 shares of the bank’s stock, valued at approximately $68,526,000.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds have also made changes to their positions in FRME. BlackRock Inc. raised its holdings in First Merchants by 6.8% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 4,076,244 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $154,490,000 after buying an additional 258,850 shares during the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN raised its holdings in First Merchants by 79.6% during the 2nd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 505,160 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $19,146,000 after buying an additional 223,954 shares during the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp raised its holdings in First Merchants by 5.0% during the 2nd quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 1,146,254 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $43,442,000 after buying an additional 54,731 shares during the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its holdings in First Merchants by 10.5% during the 4th quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 570,956 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $19,566,000 after buying an additional 54,304 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Prudential Financial Inc. raised its holdings in First Merchants by 74.6% during the 2nd quarter. Prudential Financial Inc. now owns 124,502 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $4,719,000 after buying an additional 53,180 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 73.68% of the company’s stock.

A number of research firms recently commented on FRME. ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday. Hovde Group began coverage on shares of First Merchants in a report on Wednesday, May 22nd. They set a “market perform” rating and a $39.00 price target for the company. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday. Finally, Stephens upgraded shares of First Merchants from an “equal weight” rating to an “overweight” rating and set a $44.00 price target for the company in a report on Tuesday, July 9th. Four investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $43.33.

Shares of First Merchants stock opened at $39.10 on Friday. The company has a current ratio of 0.91, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.40. The company’s fifty day simple moving average is $36.68 and its two-hundred day simple moving average is $37.18. The company has a market cap of $1.89 billion, a P/E ratio of 12.14, a PEG ratio of 1.69 and a beta of 1.06. First Merchants Co. has a 12-month low of $32.49 and a 12-month high of $49.22.

First Merchants (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 25th. The bank reported $0.83 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.80 by $0.03. The business had revenue of $106.89 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $109.10 million. First Merchants had a net margin of 31.66% and a return on equity of 11.36%. Analysts predict that First Merchants Co. will post 3.22 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 20th. Shareholders of record on Friday, September 6th will be given a dividend of $0.26 per share. This represents a $1.04 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.66%. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, September 5th. First Merchants’s payout ratio is currently 32.30%.

In other First Merchants news, Director Charles E. Schalliol sold 7,300 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, September 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $37.98, for a total transaction of $277,254.00. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. Over the last three months, insiders have acquired 103 shares of company stock worth $3,800. Insiders own 1.30% of the company’s stock.

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

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