Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Associated Banc (NYSE:ASB) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report sent to investors on Wednesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Associated Banc-Corp’s shares have underperformed the industry in the past three months. Yet, the company has an impressive earnings surprise history, having surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all of the trailing four quarters. Given its inorganic growth efforts and continued investment in franchise, expenses are likely to remain elevated in the quarters ahead, thereby hurting profitability to some extent. Moreover, the company's increased dependence on commercial loans remains a key near-term concern. Nonetheless, higher interest rates, rise in loan demand and the company's inorganic expansion driven by strong balance sheet position it well for the future.”

ASB has been the subject of a number of other reports. Jefferies Financial Group reaffirmed a hold rating and issued a $30.00 target price on shares of Associated Banc in a research note on Friday, July 20th. Robert W. Baird reiterated a buy rating and set a $30.00 price target on shares of Associated Banc in a research report on Tuesday, July 10th. Finally, Morgan Stanley reiterated a hold rating and set a $29.50 price target (down previously from $30.00) on shares of Associated Banc in a research report on Tuesday, September 18th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and two have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average price target of $28.61.

Shares of NYSE ASB traded down $0.08 during trading on Wednesday, reaching $26.52. The company had a trading volume of 1,994 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,360,134. Associated Banc has a 52 week low of $23.25 and a 52 week high of $29.02. The company has a market cap of $4.62 billion, a PE ratio of 17.37, a P/E/G ratio of 1.90 and a beta of 0.91. The company has a current ratio of 0.95, a quick ratio of 0.95 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.47.

Associated Banc (NYSE:ASB) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 19th. The bank reported $0.53 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.48 by $0.05. Associated Banc had a net margin of 20.00% and a return on equity of 9.10%. The company had revenue of $319.20 million during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $316.63 million. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.36 earnings per share. equities research analysts forecast that Associated Banc will post 2.02 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, September 17th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, September 4th were given a dividend of $0.15 per share. This represents a $0.60 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.26%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Friday, August 31st. Associated Banc’s dividend payout ratio is 39.47%.

In other news, insider Timothy J. Lau sold 19,834 shares of Associated Banc stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, July 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $28.08, for a total transaction of $556,938.72. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 69,098 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,940,271.84. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, insider David L. Stein sold 5,000 shares of Associated Banc stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, August 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $27.72, for a total transaction of $138,600.00. Following the sale, the insider now owns 38,574 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,069,271.28. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last quarter, insiders have bought 121,000 shares of company stock valued at $3,025,000 and have sold 40,675 shares valued at $1,135,267. 2.13% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. Qube Research & Technologies Ltd acquired a new position in Associated Banc during the second quarter valued at approximately $139,000. Landaas & Co. WI ADV acquired a new position in Associated Banc during the second quarter valued at approximately $143,000. Hartford Investment Management Co. acquired a new position in Associated Banc during the second quarter valued at approximately $202,000. Savant Capital LLC acquired a new position in Associated Banc during the second quarter valued at approximately $217,000. Finally, GSA Capital Partners LLP acquired a new position in Associated Banc during the first quarter valued at approximately $236,000. Institutional investors own 76.39% of the company’s stock.

About Associated Banc

Associated Banc-Corp, a bank holding company, provides various banking and nonbanking products to individuals and businesses primarily in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Minnesota. Its Corporate and Commercial Specialty segment offers deposit and cash management solutions, such as commercial checking and interest-bearing deposit products, cash vault and night depository services, liquidity solutions, payables and receivables solutions, and information services; and lending solutions, including commercial loans and lines of credit, commercial real estate financing, construction loans, letters of credit, leasing, asset based lending, and loan syndications.

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