Business First Bancshares Inc (NASDAQ:BFST) has been given an average broker rating score of 1.33 (Strong Buy) from the three brokers that cover the company, Zacks Investment Research reports. One analyst has rated the stock with a buy recommendation and two have assigned a strong buy recommendation to the company.

Analysts have set a twelve-month consensus price objective of $27.92 for the company and are predicting that the company will post $0.45 EPS for the current quarter, according to Zacks. Zacks has also assigned Business First Bancshares an industry rank of 155 out of 256 based on the ratings given to related companies.

A number of equities research analysts have issued reports on BFST shares. ValuEngine raised Business First Bancshares from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, April 29th. Zacks Investment Research lowered Business First Bancshares from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Tuesday, April 9th. Finally, FIG Partners reissued an “outperform” rating on shares of Business First Bancshares in a research report on Thursday, April 25th.

In other Business First Bancshares news, EVP Donald A. Hingle II sold 9,053 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, March 14th. The stock was sold at an average price of $24.13, for a total transaction of $218,448.89. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, Director Norman Jerome Sr Vascocu, Sr. sold 6,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, March 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $24.03, for a total value of $144,180.00. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 7.43% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. BNP Paribas Arbitrage SA boosted its stake 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 raised 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 buying an additional 2,282 shares in the last quarter. Bank of America Corp DE raised 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 buying an additional 3,278 shares in the last quarter. New York State Common Retirement Fund raised 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 buying an additional 1,500 shares in the last quarter. Finally, First Trust Advisors LP acquired a new position in shares of Business First Bancshares during the 4th quarter worth $294,000. Institutional investors own 43.17% of the company’s stock.

Business First Bancshares stock traded up $0.02 during trading hours on Wednesday, reaching $25.06. 310 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 10,447. The stock has a market capitalization of $330.70 million, a P/E ratio of 17.28 and a beta of 0.12. The company has a quick ratio of 0.95, a current ratio of 0.95 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.20. Business First Bancshares has a 12 month low of $20.64 and a 12 month high of $27.89.

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

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, May 31st. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, May 15th were given a dividend of $0.10 per share. This is a positive change from Business First Bancshares’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.08. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, May 14th. This represents a $0.40 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 1.60%. Business First Bancshares’s payout ratio is 27.59%.

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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