Trade Report: Today, The Zacks Investment Research Downgrade Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) to Hold

Today, The Zacks Investment Research Downgrade Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) to Hold

Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Most of Darden’s brands have been witnessing growth over the past few quarters on the back of sales initiatives like simplifying kitchen systems, improving in-restaurant execution to enhance guest experience menu innovation and technology-driven moves. Moreover, the company’s Olive Garden Brand Renaissance plan – aimed to turn around its business – has started reaping benefits. Also, the company’s efforts to check costs are commendable. Backed by these positives, Darden’s first-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the eighth consecutive quarter. The company also raised its guidance for fiscal 2017 earnings. Meanwhile, initiatives undertaken to attract guests at LongHorn and other units also bode well. However, rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model might dampen the company’s profits, while a soft consumer spending environment could keep comps under pressure.”

DRI has been the topic of several other research reports. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $64.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Thursday, September 1st. Piper Jaffray Cos. reaffirmed an “overweight” rating and set a $76.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Thursday, August 25th. Wells Fargo & Co. reaffirmed a “market perform” rating and set a $68.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Wednesday, September 28th. Raymond James Financial Inc. raised Darden Restaurants from an “underperform” rating to a “market perform” rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 18th. Finally, Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. reiterated an “outperform” rating and issued a $70.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Wednesday, September 7th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have assigned a hold rating and eleven have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $70.63.

Shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) traded up 0.62% during midday trading on Friday, reaching $74.95. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 278,695 shares. Darden Restaurants has a 12 month low of $55.01 and a 12 month high of $74.99. The company has a market cap of $9.22 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.20 and a beta of 0.23. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $65.72 and a 200 day moving average of $64.11.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, October 4th. The restaurant operator reported $0.88 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.82 by $0.06. The company had revenue of $1.71 billion for the quarter. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 24.97% and a net margin of 5.73%. Darden Restaurants’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.6% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the firm posted $0.68 EPS. On average, analysts predict that Darden Restaurants will post $3.93 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, November 1st. Investors of record on Monday, October 10th were given a dividend of $0.56 per share. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, October 5th. This represents a $2.24 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.01%. Darden Restaurants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 72.03%.

In other news, SVP Danielle L. Kirgan sold 8,780 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, October 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $62.47, for a total value of $548,486.60. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 15,989 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $998,832.83. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Also, SVP Danielle L. Kirgan sold 28,127 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, October 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.47, for a total value of $1,757,093.69. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 15,989 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $998,832.83. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in DRI. Fuller & Thaler Asset Management Inc. boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 80.0% in the third quarter. Fuller & Thaler Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,800 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $110,000 after buying an additional 800 shares during the last quarter. CENTRAL TRUST Co boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 16.5% in the second quarter. CENTRAL TRUST Co now owns 1,799 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $114,000 after buying an additional 255 shares during the last quarter. TLP Group LLC acquired a new stake in Darden Restaurants during the third quarter worth about $127,000. Krilogy Financial LLC boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 1.6% in the second quarter. Krilogy Financial LLC now owns 2,133 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $135,000 after buying an additional 33 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Pacer Advisors Inc. boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 9.0% in the second quarter. Pacer Advisors Inc. now owns 2,369 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $150,000 after buying an additional 195 shares during the last quarter. 92.50% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Darden Restaurants Company Profile

Darden Restaurants, Inc is a full-service restaurant company. The Company owned and operated 1,536 restaurants through its subsidiaries in the United States and Canada, as of May 29, 2016. The Company’s segments include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Fine Dining (which includes The Capital Grille, and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Wildfish Seafood Grille (Eddie V’s)) and Other Business (which includes Yard House, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, consumer-packaged goods and franchise revenues).

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