Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) Raised to Buy at Zacks Investment Research

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued to clients and investors on Tuesday, July 11th. The firm currently has a $100.00 target price on the restaurant operator’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would suggest a potential upside of 22.20% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Darden posted solid fourth-quarter fiscal 2017 results with both the bottom line and the top line beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate. In fact, this quarter marked the 11th successive earnings beat for the company. Meanwhile, Darden’s shares outpaced the Zacks categorized Retail–Restaurants industry year to date. Going forward, various sales initiatives and technology-driven moves should boost the top line. Additionally, efforts to attract guests at Olive Garden, LongHorn and other units, along with the cost saving measures bode well. However, a soft consumer spending environment could keep comps under pressure, while rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model could dampen the company’s profits, moving ahead.”

Other research analysts have also issued reports about the company. Jefferies Group LLC lifted their target price on Darden Restaurants from $72.00 to $80.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, March 29th. Maxim Group reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $90.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Wednesday, June 21st. J P Morgan Chase & Co reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $93.00 price target (up previously from $82.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Royal Bank Of Canada increased their price target on Darden Restaurants from $86.00 to $96.00 and gave the company a “sector perform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) restated a “neutral” rating and set a $87.00 price objective (up from $81.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have assigned a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $84.78.

Shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE DRI) traded down 2.32% during mid-day trading on Tuesday, reaching $81.83. 2,403,667 shares of the company were exchanged. The stock has a market capitalization of $10.26 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.52 and a beta of 0.27. Darden Restaurants has a 12 month low of $60.16 and a 12 month high of $95.22. The stock has a 50 day moving average price of $88.32 and a 200-day moving average price of $82.83.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, June 27th. The restaurant operator reported $1.18 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.15 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $1.94 billion for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $1.86 billion. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 26.18% and a net margin of 6.68%. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 8.1% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period last year, the company earned $1.10 earnings per share. Analysts predict that Darden Restaurants will post $4.47 earnings per share for the current year.

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In other news, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 93,125 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, June 29th. The stock was sold at an average price of $91.58, for a total value of $8,528,387.50. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 165,062 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $15,116,377.96. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through this link. Corporate insiders own 0.69% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the stock. BlackRock Inc. raised its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 4,601.4% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 11,464,253 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $959,215,000 after buying an additional 11,220,403 shares during the period. Wells Fargo & Company MN raised its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 38.3% in the first quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 3,229,308 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $270,196,000 after buying an additional 894,403 shares during the period. American Century Companies Inc. raised its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 42.3% in the first quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 2,076,378 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $173,731,000 after buying an additional 617,269 shares during the period. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. raised its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 66.8% in the second quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. now owns 1,275,399 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $115,348,000 after buying an additional 510,969 shares during the period. Finally, Vanguard Group Inc. raised its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 3.6% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 14,211,162 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $1,189,048,000 after buying an additional 487,366 shares during the period. 95.48% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

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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Analyst Recommendations for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

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