Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note released on Wednesday, 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. “

A number of other research analysts also recently issued reports on FFBC. Piper Jaffray Companies upgraded First Financial Bancorp from a neutral rating to an overweight rating and increased their price objective 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. Three investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating and one has issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company currently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $28.50.

NASDAQ:FFBC opened at $24.71 on Wednesday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.73, a quick ratio of 0.93 and a current ratio of 0.93. The company has a market cap of $2.47 billion, a PE ratio of 10.84 and a beta of 1.26. First Financial Bancorp has a 52-week low of $22.07 and a 52-week high of $30.75. The stock has a 50-day simple moving average of $23.83 and a 200 day simple moving average of $24.19.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, July 18th. The bank reported $0.58 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.57 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $156.94 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $153.34 million. First Financial Bancorp had a return on equity of 10.45% and a net margin of 28.03%. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.57 earnings per share. On average, research analysts predict that First Financial Bancorp will post 2.12 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, September 16th. Investors of record on Monday, September 2nd were issued a dividend of $0.23 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, August 29th. This is an increase from First Financial Bancorp’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.22. This represents a $0.92 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 3.72%. First Financial Bancorp’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 40.35%.

In related news, Director Vince Berta purchased 1,500 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, August 27th. The stock was purchased at an average cost of $22.45 per share, for a total transaction of $33,675.00. The acquisition was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this link. Also, insider Richard S. Dennen sold 5,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, July 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $25.61, for a total value of $128,050.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 80,641 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,065,216.01. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 54,077 shares of company stock valued at $1,372,473. 2.00% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Almanack Investment Partners LLC. bought a new position in First Financial Bancorp in the second quarter valued at approximately $189,000. Zebra Capital Management LLC bought a new position in First Financial Bancorp in the second quarter valued at approximately $229,000. Bank of Montreal Can grew its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 21.0% in the first quarter. Bank of Montreal Can now owns 10,387 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $249,000 after purchasing an additional 1,801 shares in the last quarter. Commonwealth Equity Services LLC bought a new position in First Financial Bancorp in the second quarter valued at approximately $303,000. Finally, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC grew its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 4.8% in the first quarter. Janney Montgomery Scott LLC now owns 13,043 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $314,000 after purchasing an additional 593 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 75.29% of the company’s stock.

First Financial Bancorp Company Profile

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.

Recommended Story: Systematic Risk

Get a free copy of the Zacks research report on First Financial Bancorp (FFBC)

For more information about research offerings from Zacks Investment Research, visit Zacks.com

Analyst Recommendations for First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC)

Receive News & Ratings for First Financial Bancorp Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for First Financial Bancorp and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.