First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) Raised to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research
First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Wednesday. The firm currently has a $24.00 price objective on the stock. Zacks Investment Research’s price target would indicate a potential upside of 11.37% from the company’s current price.
According to Zacks, “First Financial Bancorp., is a financial holding company that engages in the business of commercial banking, and other permissible activities that are financial in nature, through seventeen wholly owned subsidiary institutions. Bancorp provides management and similar services for its subsidiary financial institutions. Bancorp must depend largely upon its seventeen subsidiaries for funds with which to pay the expenses of its operation and, to the extent applicable, any dividends on its outstanding shares of stock. “
A number of other analysts have also weighed in on FFBC. Barclays PLC increased their target price on First Financial Bancorp from $20.00 to $22.00 and gave the stock an “underweight” rating in a research note on Tuesday. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods increased their target price on First Financial Bancorp from $19.00 to $21.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a research note on Monday, July 25th. Hilliard Lyons lowered First Financial Bancorp from a “buy” rating to a “neutral” rating in a research note on Monday, July 25th. Jefferies Group reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $21.00 target price on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research note on Thursday, July 7th. Finally, Raymond James Financial Inc. lowered First Financial Bancorp from an “outperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a research note on Thursday, October 6th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and one has given a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $20.81.
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Shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) traded up 0.47% on Wednesday, hitting $21.55. 231,826 shares of the company traded hands. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.34 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.58 and a beta of 1.19. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $21.77 and its 200-day moving average price is $20.22. First Financial Bancorp has a 1-year low of $13.76 and a 1-year high of $22.53.
First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last released its earnings results on Thursday, July 21st. The company reported $0.36 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.34 by $0.02. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 9.82% and a net margin of 22.23%. During the same period last year, the business earned $0.31 EPS. On average, equities research analysts expect that First Financial Bancorp will post $1.41 earnings per share for the current year.
The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, October 3rd. Investors of record on Friday, September 2nd were given a dividend of $0.16 per share. This represents a $0.64 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.97%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, August 31st. First Financial Bancorp’s payout ratio is currently 49.23%.
In related news, EVP Holly M. Foster sold 2,021 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, August 5th. The stock was sold at an average price of $21.84, for a total transaction of $44,138.64. Following the sale, the executive vice president now owns 4,979 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $108,741.36. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, Director Knapke Murph sold 15,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 3rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $21.20, for a total value of $318,000.00. Following the sale, the director now directly owns 50,929 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,079,694.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 2.19% of the company’s stock.
A number of large investors have recently modified their holdings of FFBC. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 30.9% in the second quarter. Vaughan Nelson Investment Management L.P. now owns 2,616,200 shares of the company’s stock worth $50,886,000 after buying an additional 617,425 shares during the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 4.5% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 4,949,538 shares of the company’s stock worth $96,269,000 after buying an additional 213,416 shares during the last quarter. Emerald Acquisition Ltd. bought a new stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp during the second quarter worth $3,726,000. BlackRock Fund Advisors increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 4.9% in the second quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 4,046,332 shares of the company’s stock worth $78,701,000 after buying an additional 190,106 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its stake in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 5.2% in the second quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 2,826,788 shares of the company’s stock worth $54,980,000 after buying an additional 140,364 shares during the last quarter. 72.70% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.
About First Financial Bancorp
First Financial Bancorp. (First Financial) is a regional bank holding company. First Financial is engaged in the business of commercial banking and other banking and banking-related activities through its subsidiary, First Financial Bank, National Association (the Bank). The range of banking services provided by First Financial to individuals and businesses include commercial lending, real estate lending and consumer financing.
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