First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a note issued to investors on Tuesday. The brokerage currently has a $30.00 price target on the bank’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target suggests a potential upside of 11.52% 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 equities research analysts have also recently weighed in on FFBC. DA Davidson initiated coverage on First Financial Bancorp in a research note on Thursday, March 23rd. They set a “buy” rating and a $30.00 price objective for the company. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $27.00 price target on shares of First Financial Bancorp in a research note on Monday, April 10th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have assigned a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $26.17.

Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC)

Shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) traded down 0.19% during trading on Tuesday, reaching $26.90. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 147,139 shares. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $27.30 and a 200-day moving average price of $27.14. First Financial Bancorp has a one year low of $18.00 and a one year high of $29.80. The stock has a market cap of $1.67 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.93 and a beta of 1.18.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, April 20th. The bank reported $0.39 earnings per share for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.35 by $0.04. The firm had revenue of $86.30 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $86.84 million. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 10.42% and a net margin of 23.57%. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.32 EPS. On average, equities research analysts forecast that First Financial Bancorp will post $1.56 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, July 3rd. Stockholders of record on Friday, June 2nd will be issued a $0.17 dividend. This represents a $0.68 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.53%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Wednesday, May 31st. First Financial Bancorp’s dividend payout ratio is presently 44.76%.

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In other news, insider Paul C. Silva sold 1,713 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, May 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.66, for a total value of $47,381.58. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 2,051 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $56,730.66. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. 2.19% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 2.8% in the first quarter. Bronfman E.L. Rothschild L.P. now owns 4,439 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $122,000 after buying an additional 122 shares during the period. Ameritas Investment Partners Inc. bought a new stake in First Financial Bancorp during the first quarter valued at approximately $139,000. Bank of Montreal Can raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 50.3% in the first quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 5,580 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $153,000 after buying an additional 1,867 shares during the period. SG Americas Securities LLC raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 16.6% in the first quarter. SG Americas Securities LLC now owns 6,492 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $178,000 after buying an additional 922 shares during the period. Finally, IFP Advisors Inc raised its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 0.5% in the first quarter. IFP Advisors Inc now owns 6,506 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $179,000 after buying an additional 31 shares during the period. 73.20% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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