First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) saw a significant decrease in short interest during the month of July. As of July 31st, there was short interest totalling 762,918 shares, a decrease of 40.6% from the July 14th total of 1,285,157 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 145,306 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 5.3 days. Approximately 1.6% of the company’s stock are sold short.

Several brokerages have commented on FRME. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, July 4th. Piper Jaffray Companies restated a “hold” rating on shares of First Merchants Corporation in a research report on Thursday, August 3rd. BidaskClub lowered shares of First Merchants Corporation from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Saturday, June 24th. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of First Merchants Corporation from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, June 2nd. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, one has given a hold rating and four have given a buy rating to the stock. First Merchants Corporation has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $39.33.

First Merchants Corporation (FRME) opened at 38.90 on Friday. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.91 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 17.76 and a beta of 0.92. First Merchants Corporation has a 12 month low of $25.84 and a 12 month high of $43.48. The stock’s 50 day moving average is $40.11 and its 200-day moving average is $40.07.

First Merchants Corporation (NASDAQ:FRME) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The bank reported $0.57 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.55 by $0.02. First Merchants Corporation had a return on equity of 9.63% and a net margin of 27.04%. The business had revenue of $81.53 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $78.75 million. On average, equities research analysts expect that First Merchants Corporation will post $2.32 earnings per share for the current year.

In other First Merchants Corporation news, insider Mark K. Hardwick sold 1,851 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $39.69, for a total value of $73,466.19. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 75,120 shares in the company, valued at $2,981,512.80. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Director Terry L. Walker sold 1,221 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, June 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $42.30, for a total transaction of $51,648.30. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders acquired 65 shares of company stock worth $2,616 over the last quarter. 1.41% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of FRME. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 17,626.9% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,402,680 shares of the bank’s stock worth $133,795,000 after buying an additional 3,383,485 shares during the period. JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased its stake in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 181.0% in the first quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 813,654 shares of the bank’s stock worth $31,993,000 after buying an additional 524,053 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp increased its stake in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 122.5% in the first quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 595,009 shares of the bank’s stock worth $23,395,000 after buying an additional 327,556 shares during the period. Schroder Investment Management Group purchased a new stake in shares of First Merchants Corporation during the second quarter worth $11,991,000. Finally, Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of First Merchants Corporation by 141.9% in the first quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 350,903 shares of the bank’s stock worth $13,798,000 after buying an additional 205,871 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 67.85% of the company’s stock.

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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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