Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Monday morning. The firm currently has $106.00 target price on the restaurant operator’s stock.
According to Zacks, “Darden’s shares outpaced its industry so far this year. Most of its brands have witnessed growth over the past few quarters, given various sales initiatives like simplifying kitchen systems, operational excellence, menu innovation along with technology-driven moves. The acquisition of Cheddar's has added value to Darden's portfolio of differentiated brands. Further, the company’s efforts to check costs are commendable. Backed by these efforts, Darden’s second-quarter fiscal 2018 earnings topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the 13th consecutive quarter. Yet, rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model are likely to dampen the company’s profits while a soft industry backdrop might pressurize comps. Current-quarter and current-year estimates have moved northward over the past two months, reflecting analysts’ optimism surrounding the stock.”
A number of other research firms have also recently commented on DRI. SunTrust Banks set a $94.00 price target on Darden Restaurants and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Monday, December 11th. Maxim Group reissued a buy rating and set a $112.00 price target (up previously from $103.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Tuesday, January 9th. Credit Suisse Group reissued a hold rating and set a $95.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Friday, January 12th. Jefferies Group boosted their price target on Darden Restaurants from $82.00 to $90.00 and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Wednesday, December 20th. Finally, Argus raised Darden Restaurants from a hold rating to a buy rating and boosted their price target for the stock from $95.67 to $108.00 in a report on Thursday, December 21st. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have assigned a hold rating and ten have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Darden Restaurants has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $96.73.
Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, December 19th. The restaurant operator reported $0.73 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.70 by $0.03. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 26.24% and a net margin of 6.46%. The company had revenue of $1.88 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.85 billion. research analysts expect that Darden Restaurants will post 4.76 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.
In other Darden Restaurants news, CFO Ricardo Cardenas sold 10,783 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, January 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $97.17, for a total value of $1,047,784.11. Following the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 20,046 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,947,869.82. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 59,783 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, January 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $96.80, for a total value of $5,786,994.40. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 164,396 shares in the company, valued at approximately $15,913,532.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 74,866 shares of company stock worth $7,252,094 in the last quarter. Corporate insiders own 0.63% of the company’s stock.
Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Cerebellum GP LLC bought a new stake in shares of Darden Restaurants in the 4th quarter valued at about $126,000. Grove Bank & Trust grew its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 155.6% in the 3rd quarter. Grove Bank & Trust now owns 1,840 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $145,000 after buying an additional 1,120 shares during the last quarter. Cetera Advisor Networks LLC bought a new stake in shares of Darden Restaurants in the 4th quarter valued at about $200,000. Texas Yale Capital Corp. bought a new stake in shares of Darden Restaurants in the 4th quarter valued at about $205,000. Finally, Ifrah Financial Services Inc. bought a new stake in shares of Darden Restaurants in the 4th quarter valued at about $208,000. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 92.69% of the company’s stock.
About Darden Restaurants
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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