First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) Downgraded to Sell at Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research cut shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a report issued on Thursday, Zacks.com reports.

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. “

Other equities research analysts have also issued reports about the company. Piper Jaffray Companies upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a neutral rating to an overweight rating and boosted their target price for the stock from $28.00 to $29.00 in a report on Thursday, June 20th. BidaskClub upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Thursday, September 12th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report on Wednesday, October 2nd. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and one has assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $28.50.

Shares of NASDAQ FFBC traded down $1.12 during trading hours on Thursday, hitting $23.24. The stock had a trading volume of 54,361 shares, compared to its average volume of 400,134. The company has a market capitalization of $2.44 billion, a P/E ratio of 10.14 and a beta of 1.25. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $24.15 and its two-hundred day moving average price is $24.08. First Financial Bancorp has a 52 week low of $22.07 and a 52 week high of $28.59. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.93 and a current ratio of 0.93.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 17th. The bank reported $0.56 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.54 by $0.02. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 10.45% and a net margin of 28.03%. The business had revenue of $154.68 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $150.98 million. During the same quarter in the previous year, the business posted $0.58 EPS. As a group, analysts expect that First Financial Bancorp will post 2.12 EPS for the current fiscal year.

In related news, Chairman Claude E. Davis sold 26,657 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, September 16th. The stock was sold at an average price of $25.32, for a total value of $674,955.24. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now directly owns 329,860 shares in the company, valued at approximately $8,352,055.20. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Chairman Claude E. Davis sold 22,420 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, September 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $25.40, for a total value of $569,468.00. Following the completion of the sale, the chairman now owns 356,517 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $9,055,531.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 54,077 shares of company stock valued at $1,372,473. Corporate insiders own 2.00% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Versant Capital Management Inc lifted its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 109.5% during the third quarter. Versant Capital Management Inc now owns 1,274 shares of the bank’s stock worth $31,000 after buying an additional 666 shares during the last quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 7.2% during the third quarter. Envestnet Asset Management Inc. now owns 66,563 shares of the bank’s stock worth $1,629,000 after buying an additional 4,472 shares during the last quarter. Meeder Asset Management Inc. acquired a new position in shares of First Financial Bancorp during the third quarter worth approximately $383,000. First Financial Bank Trust Division lifted its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 1.5% during the third quarter. First Financial Bank Trust Division now owns 638,936 shares of the bank’s stock worth $15,638,000 after buying an additional 9,239 shares during the last quarter. Finally, State of Alaska Department of Revenue lifted its holdings in shares of First Financial Bancorp by 125.6% during the third quarter. State of Alaska Department of Revenue now owns 75,724 shares of the bank’s stock worth $1,853,000 after buying an additional 42,153 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 74.00% of the company’s stock.

About First Financial Bancorp

First Financial Bancorp. operates as the bank holding company for First Financial Bank that provides commercial banking and related services to individuals and businesses in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois. The company accepts various deposit products, such as interest-bearing and noninterest-bearing accounts, time deposits, and cash management services for commercial customers.

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