Brinker International, Inc. (EAT) Upgraded by Zacks Investment Research to Buy

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE:EAT) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Friday. The firm currently has $35.00 target price on the restaurant operator’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Brinker’s aggressive expansion strategies and sales building initiatives like streamlining of menu and innovation value offerings along with its loyalty program should boost comps. Increased focus on company-owned restaurants, which allows it to have full control over operations, is also expected to boost the bottom as well as the top line. However, the company’s revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in eight of the trailing ten quarters, mainly due to traffic decline at its restaurants. Further, higher labor as well as costs related to various initiatives might continue to hurt margins, while overall choppiness in the restaurant space might keep on pressurizing comps in the coming quarters. Nevertheless, various operational, remodeling and digital initiatives are likely to aid the stock in driving growth, going ahead. Meanwhile, estimates have been stable ahead of the company's fiscal first-quarter 2018 earnings release.”

A number of other research firms have also recently issued reports on EAT. Raymond James Financial, Inc. reaffirmed a market perform rating on shares of Brinker International in a report on Monday, July 24th. ValuEngine cut Brinker International from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report on Friday, September 1st. Telsey Advisory Group cut their price target on Brinker International from $40.00 to $37.00 and set a market perform rating for the company in a report on Tuesday, September 19th. BMO Capital Markets set a $36.00 price target on Brinker International and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Saturday, August 12th. Finally, Maxim Group reaffirmed a buy rating and issued a $54.00 price target on shares of Brinker International in a report on Thursday, June 15th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have given a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of Hold and an average target price of $41.46.

Shares of Brinker International (EAT) traded down 0.70% during trading on Friday, reaching $31.36. 1,432,967 shares of the company were exchanged. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.52 billion, a P/E ratio of 10.67 and a beta of 0.26. Brinker International has a 52-week low of $29.50 and a 52-week high of $55.84. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $31.76 and a 200 day moving average of $37.54.

Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, August 10th. The restaurant operator reported $1.09 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.04 by $0.05. Brinker International had a negative return on equity of 31.46% and a net margin of 4.79%. The company had revenue of $810.66 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $809.94 million. During the same period last year, the business earned $1.24 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was down 8.1% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts anticipate that Brinker International will post $3.23 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, September 28th. Investors of record on Friday, September 8th were given a $0.38 dividend. This represents a $1.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 4.85%. This is a positive change from Brinker International’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.34. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Thursday, September 7th. Brinker International’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 50.84%.

Brinker International announced that its Board of Directors has approved a share buyback program on Thursday, August 10th that permits the company to repurchase $250.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization permits the restaurant operator to repurchase up to 14.6% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase programs are usually an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

In other news, Director Michael A. George acquired 16,450 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, September 6th. The stock was purchased at an average cost of $30.31 per share, for a total transaction of $498,599.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 49,952 shares in the company, valued at $1,514,045.12. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. 1.91% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

Hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its position in shares of Brinker International by 5.9% during the 2nd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 5,874,194 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $223,806,000 after buying an additional 329,577 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. grew its position in shares of Brinker International by 27.8% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 5,080,271 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $193,557,000 after buying an additional 1,104,999 shares during the period. State Street Corp grew its position in shares of Brinker International by 18.4% during the 2nd quarter. State Street Corp now owns 1,710,040 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $65,148,000 after buying an additional 265,437 shares during the period. Cooke & Bieler LP grew its position in shares of Brinker International by 4.4% during the 2nd quarter. Cooke & Bieler LP now owns 1,522,933 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $58,024,000 after buying an additional 64,780 shares during the period. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP grew its position in shares of Brinker International by 0.8% during the 2nd quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 1,198,052 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $45,647,000 after buying an additional 9,729 shares during the period.

Brinker International Company Profile

Brinker International, Inc is engaged in the ownership, operation, development, and franchising of the Chili’s Grill & Bar (Chili’s) and Maggiano’s Little Italy (Maggiano’s) restaurant brands. The Company’s Chili’s operates Bar & Grill category of casual dining. Chili’s menu features authentic Fresh Mex and Fresh Tex cuisine, including signature items, such as Baby Back Ribs smoked in-house, Hand-Crafted Burgers served with house-made garlic dill pickles, Mix and Match Fajitas, Tableside Guacamole and house-made Chips and Salsa.

Analyst Recommendations for Brinker International (NYSE:EAT)

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