First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Thursday.

According to Zacks, “FIRST MERCHANTS CORP. is a bank holding company engaged in conducting commercial banking business through the offices of its banking subsidiaries. “

A number of other equities analysts have also weighed in on FRME. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $47.00 target price on shares of First Merchants Corporation in a research note on Sunday. Piper Jaffray Companies reaffirmed a “hold” rating on shares of First Merchants Corporation in a research note on Thursday, August 3rd. Finally, BidaskClub lowered shares of First Merchants Corporation from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, two have assigned a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the stock. The company currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $47.33.

First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, October 26th. The bank reported $0.50 EPS for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.55 by ($0.05). The firm had revenue of $93.09 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $97.45 million. First Merchants Corporation had a net margin of 26.28% and a return on equity of 10.38%.

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In other news, insider Mark K. Hardwick sold 1,851 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, August 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $39.69, for a total transaction of $73,466.19. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now directly owns 75,120 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,981,512.80. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this link. Corporate insiders own 1.41% of the company’s stock.

Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. Federated Investors Inc. PA lifted its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 96.0% in the 4th quarter. Federated Investors Inc. PA now owns 36,803 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $1,386,000 after purchasing an additional 18,024 shares during the last quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. lifted its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 16.0% in the 1st quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 1,410,785 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $33,252,000 after purchasing an additional 194,382 shares during the last quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. lifted its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 116.1% in the 1st quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. now owns 14,264 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $561,000 after purchasing an additional 7,664 shares during the last quarter. Virginia Retirement Systems ET AL lifted its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 3.5% in the 2nd quarter. Virginia Retirement Systems ET AL now owns 59,300 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $2,380,000 after purchasing an additional 2,000 shares during the last quarter. Finally, TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC lifted its stake in First Merchants Corporation by 14.8% in the 3rd quarter. TIAA CREF Investment Management LLC now owns 192,192 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $5,141,000 after purchasing an additional 24,830 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 67.32% of the company’s stock.

About First Merchants Corporation

First Merchants Corporation is a financial holding company. The Company has a bank charter, First Merchants Bank (the Bank), which is opened for business in Muncie, Indiana. It operates through community banking business segment. The Bank also operates Lafayette Bank and Trust, and First Merchants Private Wealth Advisors (each as a division of First Merchants Bank).

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