Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) Earns “Hold” Rating from Maxim Group

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Maxim Group restated their hold rating on shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) in a research report report published on Thursday, September 20th. Maxim Group currently has a $112.00 price objective on the restaurant operator’s stock.

“DRI posted F1Q19 (August) pro forma EPS of $1.34, which beat our $1.26 estimate and the $1.24 Street mean. The company’s +3.3% blended comp also beat expectations, helped by stronger than expected sales at the fine dining brands. However, Cheddar’s remained a drag on overall performance with a -4.0% comp. The company raised FY19 EPS guidance to $5.52-$5.65, which brackets our $5.63 pre-release estimate and the $5.54 Street mean. Management also raised its blended comp target to positive 2.0%-2.5%, from positive 1.0%-2.0% (vs. +2.4% Maxim pre-release and +1.9% Street mean).”,” Maxim Group’s analyst wrote.

A number of other research analysts have also recently issued reports on DRI. Mizuho lifted their target price on shares of Darden Restaurants to $115.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Friday, June 22nd. Jefferies Financial Group lifted their target price on shares of Darden Restaurants from $90.00 to $100.00 and gave the company a hold rating in a research note on Friday, June 22nd. Stephens lifted their target price on shares of Darden Restaurants from $105.00 to $125.00 and gave the company an overweight rating in a research note on Friday, June 22nd. SunTrust Banks boosted their price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants to $117.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Friday, June 22nd. Finally, Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Darden Restaurants from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Monday, June 11th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and sixteen have given a buy rating to the stock. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Buy and an average price target of $119.65.

NYSE DRI opened at $106.76 on Thursday. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.41, a quick ratio of 0.26 and a current ratio of 0.41. The company has a market cap of $13.74 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.20, a P/E/G ratio of 2.11 and a beta of 0.17. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $78.83 and a 1-year high of $124.00.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, September 20th. The restaurant operator reported $1.34 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.24 by $0.10. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 30.32% and a net margin of 7.84%. The company had revenue of $2.06 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.03 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the business earned $0.99 earnings per share. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 6.5% on a year-over-year basis. On average, sell-side analysts predict that Darden Restaurants will post 5.63 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, November 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, October 10th will be issued a $0.75 dividend. This represents a $3.00 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.81%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, October 9th. Darden Restaurants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 26.20%.

In other news, COO David C. George sold 55,671 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, October 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $108.24, for a total value of $6,025,829.04. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief operating officer now owns 95,236 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $10,308,344.64. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this link. Also, SVP Douglas J. Milanes sold 2,186 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction on Monday, July 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $111.06, for a total transaction of $242,777.16. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now directly owns 792 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $87,959.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 118,545 shares of company stock valued at $13,103,896 in the last three months. 0.65% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in DRI. Millennium Management LLC boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 290.8% in the 2nd quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 1,287,465 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $137,836,000 after purchasing an additional 958,040 shares during the period. Morgan Stanley boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 100.8% in the 2nd quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 1,520,183 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $162,751,000 after purchasing an additional 763,239 shares during the period. Voya Investment Management LLC boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 608.9% in the 2nd quarter. Voya Investment Management LLC now owns 699,834 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $74,923,000 after purchasing an additional 601,115 shares during the period. Lord Abbett & CO. LLC acquired a new position in Darden Restaurants in the 1st quarter worth $43,827,000. Finally, Renaissance Technologies LLC boosted its stake in Darden Restaurants by 845.5% in the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 539,900 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $57,802,000 after purchasing an additional 482,800 shares during the period. 89.50% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

About Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants, Inc, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates full-service restaurants in the United States and Canada. As of May 27, 2018, it owned and operated approximately 1,746 restaurants under the Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and Eddie V's brands.

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Analyst Recommendations for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

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