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First Financial Bancorp (FFBC) appears an attractive pick given a noticeable improvement in the company's earnings outlook. The stock has been a strong performer lately, and the momentum might continue with analysts still raising their earnings estimates for the company.
Analysts' growing optimism on the earnings prospects of this holding company for First Financial Bank is driving estimates higher, which should get reflected in its stock price. After all, empirical research shows a strong correlation between trends in earnings estimate revisions and near-term stock price movements. Our stock rating tool -- the Zacks Rank -- is principally built on this insight.
The five-grade Zacks Rank system, which ranges from a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), has an impressive externally-audited track record of outperformance, with Zacks #1 Ranked stocks generating an average annual return of +25% since 2008.
For First Financial, there has been strong agreement among the covering analysts in raising earnings estimates, which has helped push consensus estimates considerably higher for the next quarter and full year.
The chart below shows the evolution of forward 12-month Zacks Consensus EPS estimate:
12 Month EPS
Current-Quarter Estimate Revisions
The earnings estimate of $0.48 per share for the current quarter represents a change of +54.84% from the number reported a year ago.
Over the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for First Financial has increased 22.22% because three estimates have moved higher compared to no negative revisions.
Current-Year Estimate Revisions
For the full year, the earnings estimate of $1.71 per share represents a change of +2.4% from the year-ago number.
The revisions trend for the current year also appears quite promising for First Financial, with four estimates moving higher over the past month compared to no negative revisions. The consensus estimate has also received a boost over this time frame, increasing 17.53%.
Favorable Zacks Rank
The promising estimate revisions have helped First Financial earn a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). The Zacks Rank is a tried-and-tested rating tool that helps investors effectively harness the power of earnings estimate revisions and make the right investment decision. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Our research shows that stocks with Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and 2 (Buy) significantly outperform the S&P 500.
While strong estimate revisions for First Financial have attracted decent investments and pushed the stock 9.8% higher over the past four weeks, further upside may still be left in the stock. So, you may consider adding it to your portfolio right away.
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First Financial Bancorp. (FFBC) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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