Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday, July 12th.

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.”

A number of other analysts also recently weighed in on DRI. Oppenheimer Holdings, Inc. reissued an “outperform” rating and issued a $85.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Tuesday, March 21st. Maxim Group reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $80.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Thursday, March 23rd. Royal Bank Of Canada reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Thursday, March 23rd. Wells Fargo & Company restated a “market perform” rating on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Tuesday, March 28th. Finally, Robert W. Baird restated a “hold” rating and issued a $80.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Tuesday, March 28th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have given a hold rating and six have issued a buy rating to the company. Darden Restaurants has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $84.78.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) traded down 2.32% during midday trading on Wednesday, hitting $81.83. 2,403,667 shares of the stock traded hands. The company has a 50-day moving average of $88.32 and a 200-day moving average of $82.83. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $60.16 and a 1-year high of $95.22. The stock has a market cap of $10.26 billion, a PE ratio of 21.52 and a beta of 0.27.

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

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In related news, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 93,125 shares of Darden Restaurants stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, June 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $91.58, for a total transaction of $8,528,387.50. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 165,062 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $15,116,377.96. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. 0.69% of the stock is currently owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. Gulf International Bank UK Ltd raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 0.8% in the first quarter. Gulf International Bank UK Ltd now owns 37,224 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $3,114,000 after buying an additional 300 shares during the last quarter. GW&K Investment Management LLC raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 4.4% in the first quarter. GW&K Investment Management LLC now owns 450,512 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $37,694,000 after buying an additional 19,118 shares during the last quarter. Creative Planning raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 10.9% in the first quarter. Creative Planning now owns 7,769 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $650,000 after buying an additional 761 shares during the last quarter. Raymond James Trust N.A. raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 3.2% in the first quarter. Raymond James Trust N.A. now owns 7,374 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $617,000 after buying an additional 229 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 3.5% in the first quarter. Chevy Chase Trust Holdings Inc. now owns 111,187 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $9,303,000 after buying an additional 3,768 shares during the last quarter. 95.48% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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Analyst Recommendations for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

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