First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) was downgraded by stock analysts at BidaskClub from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report issued on Wednesday.

A number of other equities research analysts have also issued reports on the company. Zacks Investment Research upgraded First Financial Bancorp. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $31.00 price target for the company in a research note on Tuesday. ValuEngine upgraded First Financial Bancorp. from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Wednesday, May 31st. 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. Finally, DA Davidson assumed coverage on First Financial Bancorp. in a research note on Thursday, March 23rd. They issued a “buy” rating and a $30.00 price target for the company. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $26.33.

Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC)

First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ FFBC) traded down 2.04% during midday trading on Wednesday, reaching $26.40. The company had a trading volume of 143,440 shares. The firm has a 50-day moving average price of $26.62 and a 200-day moving average price of $27.50. The company has a market capitalization of $1.64 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.60 and a beta of 1.21. First Financial Bancorp. has a 52 week low of $18.00 and a 52 week high of $29.80.

First Financial Bancorp. (NASDAQ:FFBC) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, April 20th. The bank reported $0.39 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.35 by $0.04. First Financial Bancorp. had a return on equity of 10.79% and a net margin of 24.42%. The business had revenue of $86.30 million during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $86.84 million. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business posted $0.32 EPS. Analysts expect that First Financial Bancorp. will post $1.56 EPS 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 given a dividend of $0.17 per share. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, May 31st. This represents a $0.68 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.58%. First Financial Bancorp.’s payout ratio is 45.33%.

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In other news, insider Paul C. Silva sold 1,713 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, May 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.66, for a total transaction of $47,381.58. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 2,051 shares in the company, valued at $56,730.66. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Company insiders own 1.88% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Russell Investments Group Ltd. purchased a new position in shares of First Financial Bancorp. during the fourth quarter worth $1,193,000. Comerica Bank raised its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 5.3% in the fourth quarter. Comerica Bank now owns 67,461 shares of the bank’s stock worth $1,892,000 after buying an additional 3,376 shares during the last quarter. State Street Corp raised its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 19.4% in the fourth quarter. State Street Corp now owns 1,691,898 shares of the bank’s stock worth $48,138,000 after buying an additional 274,415 shares during the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP raised its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 3.6% in the fourth quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 3,026,362 shares of the bank’s stock worth $86,099,000 after buying an additional 103,860 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC raised its position in shares of First Financial Bancorp. by 5.4% in the fourth quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 347,800 shares of the bank’s stock worth $9,895,000 after buying an additional 17,800 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 74.48% of the company’s stock.

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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