Business First Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:BFST) Sees Large Decline in Short Interest

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Business First Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:BFST) saw a large decline in short interest in the month of May. As of May 31st, there was short interest totalling 106,500 shares, a decline of 15.7% from the April 30th total of 126,400 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 12,300 shares, the short-interest ratio is presently 8.7 days. Approximately 0.9% of the company’s shares are sold short.

A number of research analysts recently issued reports on the company. Zacks Investment Research downgraded Business First Bancshares from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Friday, June 7th. ValuEngine upgraded Business First Bancshares from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Monday, April 29th. Finally, FIG Partners restated an “outperform” rating on shares of Business First Bancshares in a report on Thursday, April 25th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus target price of $28.50.

NASDAQ:BFST traded down $0.14 during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $25.10. 122 shares of the company’s stock traded hands, compared to its average volume of 9,452. Business First Bancshares has a 12-month low of $20.64 and a 12-month high of $27.89. The company has a market cap of $336.71 million, a PE ratio of 17.29 and a beta of 0.12. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.20, a current ratio of 0.95 and a quick ratio of 0.95.

Business First Bancshares (NASDAQ:BFST) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, April 23rd. The company reported $0.41 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.40 by $0.01. Business First Bancshares had a return on equity of 7.91% and a net margin of 18.11%. The company had revenue of $21.43 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $21.29 million. Analysts expect that Business First Bancshares will post 1.82 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, May 31st. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, May 15th were issued a dividend of $0.10 per share. This is an increase from Business First Bancshares’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.08. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, May 14th. This represents a $0.40 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 1.59%. Business First Bancshares’s dividend payout ratio is 27.59%.

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of BFST. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA grew its holdings in shares of Business First Bancshares by 431.1% during the 1st quarter. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA now owns 2,257 shares of the company’s stock worth $55,000 after acquiring an additional 1,832 shares during the period. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY grew its holdings in shares of Business First Bancshares by 192.6% during the 4th quarter. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. NY now owns 3,467 shares of the company’s stock worth $84,000 after acquiring an additional 2,282 shares during the period. Bank of America Corp DE grew its holdings in shares of Business First Bancshares by 81.5% during the 4th quarter. Bank of America Corp DE now owns 7,299 shares of the company’s stock worth $177,000 after acquiring an additional 3,278 shares during the period. New York State Common Retirement Fund grew its holdings in shares of Business First Bancshares by 14.2% during the 4th quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund now owns 12,100 shares of the company’s stock worth $293,000 after acquiring an additional 1,500 shares during the period. Finally, First Trust Advisors LP purchased a new position in shares of Business First Bancshares during the 4th quarter worth approximately $294,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 43.17% of the company’s stock.

About Business First Bancshares

Business First Bancshares, Inc operates as the bank holding company for Business First Bank that provides various banking products and services. It offers various deposit products and services, including a range of checking, demand, money market, time, and savings accounts, as well as certificates of deposit; and remote deposit capture and direct deposit services.

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