Investar Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ISTR – Get a rating) was the target of a sharp drop in short interest during the month of March. As of March 15, there was short interest totaling 10,500 shares, down 30.0% from February 28’s total of 15,000 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 13,700 shares, the short interest ratio is currently 0.8 days. Approximately 0.1% of the company’s shares are sold short.

In other Investar news, insider Jeffrey Wayne Martin acquired 1,714 shares of the company in a deal that took place on Wednesday, March 2. The shares were acquired at an average price of $20.41 per share, with a total value of $34,982.74. The acquisition was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, accessible via this hyperlink. Insiders have purchased a total of 2,314 shares of the company worth $46,759 over the past three months. 10.09% of the shares are held by insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently increased or reduced their stakes in the company. Geode Capital Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Investar by 1.0% in the 3rd quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 101,921 shares of the financial services provider valued at $2,244,000 after purchasing an additional 1,004 shares during the period. Royal Bank of Canada increased its position in Investar by 18.7% during the second quarter. Royal Bank of Canada now owns 10,539 shares of the financial services provider worth $241,000 after acquiring 1,658 additional shares in the last quarter. Trexquant Investment LP increased its position in Investar by 28.9% during the third quarter. Trexquant Investment LP now owns 11,270 shares of the financial services provider worth $248,000 after acquiring an additional 2,530 shares in the last quarter. Maltese Capital Management LLC increased its position in Investar by 0.6% during the 4th quarter. Maltese Capital Management LLC now owns 491,000 shares of the financial services provider worth $9,039,000 after acquiring an additional 2,700 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Kennedy Capital Management Inc. increased its position in Investar by 1.7% during the 4th quarter. Kennedy Capital Management Inc. now owns 319,928 shares of the financial services provider worth $5,890,000 after acquiring 5,266 additional shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors hold 55.62% of the company’s shares.

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Several equity analysts have commented on ISTR shares. StockNews.com began covering Investar in a report on Saturday. They issued a “hold” rating for the company. TheStreet upgraded Investar from a ‘c’ rating to a ‘b’ rating in a Thursday, March 3 report. Ultimately, Zacks Investment Research upgraded Investar from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a Wednesday, February 2, report.

ISTR stock opened at $19.15 on Tuesday. Investar has a 1-year low of $17.08 and a 1-year high of $23.69. The company has a market capitalization of $197.44 million, a price-earnings ratio of 25.20 and a beta of 0.59. The company has a 50-day moving average of $19.59. The company has a debt ratio of 0.50, a quick ratio of 0.91 and a current ratio of 0.91.

Investar (NASDAQ:ISTR – Get a rating) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, January 27. The financial services provider reported earnings per share of $0.56 for the quarter. Investar achieved a return on equity of 2.27% and a net margin of 7.44%. The company had revenue of $23.15 million for the quarter. On average, research analysts expect Investar to post earnings per share of 2.25 for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, April 29. Shareholders of record on Thursday, March 31 will receive a dividend of $0.085. This is a positive change from Investar’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.08. This represents an annualized dividend of $0.34 and a dividend yield of 1.78%. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, March 30. Investar’s dividend payout ratio is currently 42.11%.

Investar Company Profile (Get a rating)

Investar Holding Corp. is a financial holding company that provides comprehensive banking services. It offers a full suite of commercial and retail lending products across all of its market sectors, including small and medium business loans as well as personal loans. Its lending products consist of owner-occupied commercial real estate loans, construction loans, and commercial and industrial loans, such as term loans, equipment financing and lines of credit, while its individuals include first and second mortgages, installment loans and lines of credit.

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