First Financial Bancorp Stock Upgraded (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 upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from hold to buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The gross profit margin for FIRST FINL BANCORP INC/OH is currently very high, coming in at 84.20%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 17.35% is above that of the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 98.11% to $94.09 million when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow of 98.11%, FIRST FINL BANCORP INC/OH is still growing at a significantly lower rate than the industry average of 532.21%.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Commercial Banks industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, FIRST FINL BANCORP INC/OH has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • FFBC, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 1.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues fell by 10.4%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
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First Financial Bancorp. operates as a bank holding company for First Financial Bank, National Association that provides commercial banking, and other banking and banking-related services. The company has a P/E ratio of 13.9, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. First Financial has a market cap of $919.6 million and is part of the financial sector and banking industry. Shares are up 8.6% 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

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.

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