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First Financial Bancorp Stock Downgraded (FFBC)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- First Financial Bancorp (Nasdaq: FFBC) has been downgraded by TheStreet Ratings from buy to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins and reasonable valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity.

  • EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Jim Cramer's Protégé, Dave Peltier, only buys Stocks Under $10 that he thinks could potentially double. See what he's trading today with a 14-day FREE pass.

Highlights from the ratings report include:

  • The gross profit margin for FIRST FINL BANCORP INC/OH is currently very high, coming in at 81.20%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 15.32% is above that of the industry average.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and greatly underperformed compared to the Commercial Banks industry average. The net income has decreased by 18.6% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from $16.99 million to $13.82 million.
  • Reflecting the weaknesses we have cited, including the decline in the company's earnings per share, FFBC has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 8.57% from its price level of one year ago. Looking ahead, we do not see anything in this company's numbers that would change the one-year trend. It was down over the last twelve months; and it could be down again in the next twelve. Naturally, a bull or bear market could sway the movement of this stock.
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First Financial Bancorp. operates as a bank holding company for First Financial Bank that provides commercial banking and other banking and banking-related services to individuals and businesses. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.2, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. First Financial has a market cap of $898.2 million and is part of the financial sector and banking industry. Shares are up 5.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday.

You can view the full First Financial Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

-- Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff

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