Short Interest in First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) Expands By 11.5%

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) saw a significant growth in short interest during the month of December. As of December 31st, there was short interest totalling 4,350,000 shares, a growth of 11.5% from the December 15th total of 3,900,000 shares. Currently, 4.5% of the shares of the company are sold short. Based on an average trading volume of 374,900 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is currently 11.6 days.

A number of equities analysts have recently commented on the stock. ValuEngine raised shares of First Financial Bancorp from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, October 30th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of First Financial Bancorp from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $28.00 price objective for the company in a report on Thursday, January 9th. Royal Bank of Canada set a $24.00 target price on shares of First Financial Bancorp and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Monday, October 21st. Finally, BidaskClub cut First Financial Bancorp from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Tuesday. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating and two have given a buy rating to the company. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $28.20.

In other First Financial Bancorp news, Chairman Claude E. Davis sold 25,000 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, December 9th. The shares were sold at an average price of $24.52, for a total value of $613,000.00. Following the sale, the chairman now directly owns 304,860 shares in the company, valued at approximately $7,475,167.20. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Company insiders own 2.00% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of FFBC. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 1.5% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 14,530,060 shares of the bank’s stock worth $351,917,000 after buying an additional 218,329 shares in the last quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. lifted its holdings in First Financial Bancorp by 4.8% during the second quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 5,266,350 shares of the bank’s stock worth $127,557,000 after acquiring an additional 240,753 shares in the last quarter. Northern Trust Corp lifted its holdings in First Financial Bancorp by 7.6% during the second quarter. Northern Trust Corp now owns 2,477,830 shares of the bank’s stock worth $60,012,000 after acquiring an additional 175,710 shares in the last quarter. Neumeier Poma Investment Counsel LLC grew its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 6.1% in the second quarter. Neumeier Poma Investment Counsel LLC now owns 1,668,348 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $40,407,000 after acquiring an additional 95,370 shares during the period. Finally, Voya Investment Management LLC grew its stake in First Financial Bancorp by 27.9% in the third quarter. Voya Investment Management LLC now owns 811,569 shares of the bank’s stock valued at $19,864,000 after acquiring an additional 177,035 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 75.63% of the company’s stock.

NASDAQ:FFBC traded up $0.44 during mid-day trading on Thursday, reaching $25.27. The stock had a trading volume of 11,588 shares, compared to its average volume of 347,303. The stock has a market capitalization of $2.48 billion, a P/E ratio of 11.08 and a beta of 1.24. The firm has a 50 day moving average price of $25.09 and a two-hundred day moving average price of $24.33. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.72, a quick ratio of 0.95 and a current ratio of 0.96. First Financial Bancorp has a one year low of $22.07 and a one year high of $28.59.

First Financial Bancorp (NASDAQ:FFBC) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, October 17th. The bank reported $0.56 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.54 by $0.02. First Financial Bancorp had a net margin of 27.72% and a return on equity of 10.13%. The business had revenue of $154.68 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $150.98 million. During the same period last year, the business earned $0.58 earnings per share. Research analysts forecast that First Financial Bancorp will post 2.14 earnings per share for the current year.

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.

Further Reading: How Do You Calculate Return on Equity (ROE)?

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.