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Why First Financial (FFBC) Should be Added to Your Portfolio

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In the Q1 earnings season, the Finance sector was one of the best performers. Though uncertainty over further interest rate hikes on mixed U.S. economic data and increasing signals of rising political commotion in the White House is perceived, still we can add some of the banking stocks to our portfolio based on strong fundamentals and solid long-term growth opportunity.

First Financial Bancorp FFBC is one such stock that has been witnessing upward estimate revisions, reflecting analysts’ optimism about its future prospects. Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2017 and 2018 increased 2.6% and around 1.0%, respectively.

Further, shares of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock have gained 26.7% over the last one year, outperforming 20.9% growth recorded by the Zacks categorized Midwest Banks industry.

Notably, First Financial has a number of other aspects that make it an attractive investment option.

4 Reasons Why First Financial is an Attractive Buy Now  

Revenue Growth: First Financial continues to make steady progress toward improving its top line. Also, the company’s projected sales growth (F1/F0) of 4.84% (as against the industry average of about 2.62%) indicates constant upward momentum in revenues.

Earnings Strength: First Financial witnessed earnings growth of 5.13% in the last three–five years. In addition, the company’s long-term (three–five years) estimated EPS growth rate of 10.0% promises rewards for investors over the long run. Also, the company has recorded average positive earnings surprise of 5.7% over the trailing four quarters.

Superior Return on Equity (ROE): First Financial’s ROE of 10.79%, as compared with the industry average of 9.40%, indicates the company’s commendable position over its peers.

Stock is Undervalued: First Financial has a P/E ratio and P/B ratio of 16.20x and 1.79x compared to the S&P 500 average of 18.96x and 3.20x, respectively. Based on these ratios, the stock seems undervalued.

Other Stocks to Consider

M&T Bank Corporation (MTB - Free Report) has been witnessing upward estimate revisions for the last 60 days. Over the last six months, the company’s share price has been up more than 3.9%. It carries a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Comerica Incorporated CMA has been witnessing upward estimate revisions for the last 60 days. Additionally, the stock inched up nearly 1.1% over the past six months. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2.

The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. PNC has been witnessing upward estimate revisions for the last 60 days. Also, the company’s shares have risen nearly 5.2% over the last six months. It presently holds a Zacks Rank #2.

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