Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Hancock (NASDAQ:HBHC) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note published on Tuesday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $61.00 price target on the financial services provider’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Hancock Holding have outpaced the industry over the past six months. Moreover, the company’s earnings have surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in three of the trailing four quarters. Strategic initiatives, growth in loan and deposit balances and improving rate environment will likely continue to support the company's profitability. Also, deal to acquire the asset management and trust business of Capital One is expected to be accretive to earnings. While, the continued rise in operating expenses owing to restructuring efforts and exposure to risky loan portfolios remain near-term concerns, the company is expected to enhance shareholder value through its consistent dividend payments supported by a solid liquidity position.”

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Several other analysts also recently commented on the stock. BidaskClub raised shares of Hancock from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Wednesday, March 14th. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $62.00 price objective on shares of Hancock in a research report on Friday, January 19th. SunTrust Banks reaffirmed a hold rating and set a $59.00 price objective on shares of Hancock in a research report on Friday, January 19th. Sandler O’Neill reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $61.00 price objective on shares of Hancock in a research report on Friday, January 19th. Finally, Hovde Group raised shares of Hancock from a market perform rating to an outperform rating and set a $58.00 price objective for the company in a research report on Wednesday, December 27th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and six have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has a consensus rating of Buy and an average target price of $57.86.

Shares of Hancock (HBHC) opened at $52.55 on Tuesday. The company has a market cap of $4,642.03, a P/E ratio of 18.58, a PEG ratio of 1.78 and a beta of 1.03. Hancock has a 52-week low of $41.05 and a 52-week high of $56.40. The company has a current ratio of 0.81, a quick ratio of 0.81 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.11.

Hancock (NASDAQ:HBHC) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Wednesday, January 17th. The financial services provider reported $0.86 EPS for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.83 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $277.74 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $282.68 million. Hancock had a net margin of 18.46% and a return on equity of 8.96%. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.64 EPS. research analysts expect that Hancock will post 3.82 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, March 15th. Investors of record on Monday, March 5th were given a $0.24 dividend. This represents a $0.96 annualized dividend and a yield of 1.83%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, March 2nd. Hancock’s payout ratio is currently 38.55%.

In related news, Director Frank E. Bertucci sold 3,031 shares of Hancock stock in a transaction on Wednesday, January 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $55.00, for a total value of $166,705.00. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Stephen E. Barker sold 3,572 shares of Hancock stock in a transaction on Wednesday, March 14th. The shares were sold at an average price of $55.70, for a total transaction of $198,960.40. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 47,833 shares of company stock valued at $2,613,063. 1.15% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in Hancock by 2.5% in the 4th quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 9,162,787 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $453,560,000 after purchasing an additional 223,920 shares during the period. Millennium Management LLC grew its position in Hancock by 22.2% in the 4th quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 2,793,185 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $138,263,000 after purchasing an additional 507,259 shares during the period. JPMorgan Chase & Co. grew its position in Hancock by 1.0% in the 3rd quarter. JPMorgan Chase & Co. now owns 1,622,960 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $78,633,000 after purchasing an additional 16,814 shares during the period. Ameriprise Financial Inc. grew its position in Hancock by 5.2% in the 3rd quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 1,360,353 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $65,909,000 after purchasing an additional 66,884 shares during the period. Finally, Cramer Rosenthal Mcglynn LLC grew its position in Hancock by 12.8% in the 3rd quarter. Cramer Rosenthal Mcglynn LLC now owns 1,309,781 shares of the financial services provider’s stock valued at $63,459,000 after purchasing an additional 148,778 shares during the period. 77.41% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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Hancock Company Profile

Hancock Holding Company is a financial services company that provides a network of service financial choices to the Gulf South region, through its bank subsidiary, Whitney Bank (the Bank), a Mississippi state bank. The Company operates through overall banking operations segment. The Bank operates under brands, such as Hancock Bank in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and Whitney Bank in Louisiana and Texas.

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