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

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note issued to investors on Monday morning. The firm currently has $111.00 price target on the restaurant operator’s stock.

According to Zacks, “Darden posted solid second-quarter fiscal 2018 results with the bottom and the top line surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate. In fact, the reported quarter marked the 13th successive earnings beat for the company. Meanwhile, Darden’s shares also outpaced its industry in the past one year. Current-quarter and year estimates have also moved northward over the past two months. Going ahead, various sales initiatives and technology-driven moves are expected to boost the top line. Additionally, efforts to attract guests at Olive Garden, LongHorn and other units along with the cost saving measures are encouraging. However, a soft consumer spending environment might keep comps under pressure while rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model may dampen the company’s profits.”

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the company. Royal Bank of Canada restated a sector perform rating and set a $90.00 target price (down previously from $96.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Friday, September 22nd. Longbow Research initiated coverage on Darden Restaurants in a report on Friday, October 13th. They issued a neutral rating on the stock. Maxim Group reiterated a hold rating and issued a $90.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Thursday, September 21st. SunTrust Banks set a $94.00 price target on Darden Restaurants and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Monday, December 11th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets set a $80.00 price target on Darden Restaurants and gave the company a hold rating in a report on Thursday, October 19th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have given a hold rating and ten have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Hold and an average target price of $95.18.

Shares of Darden Restaurants (DRI) traded up $0.81 during mid-day trading on Monday, hitting $97.60. The stock had a trading volume of 1,277,395 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,685,124. The company has a quick ratio of 0.20, a current ratio of 0.34 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.47. The company has a market capitalization of $12,070.00, a PE ratio of 24.58, a PEG ratio of 2.11 and a beta of 0.20. Darden Restaurants has a 12 month low of $71.43 and a 12 month high of $100.11.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, February 1st. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, January 10th will be issued a dividend of $0.63 per share. This represents a $2.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.58%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, January 9th. Darden Restaurants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 63.48%.

A number of institutional investors and hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of DRI. Cipher Capital LP bought a new position in Darden Restaurants during the second quarter worth about $417,000. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. boosted its holdings in Darden Restaurants by 2.2% during the second quarter. Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. now owns 5,667 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $513,000 after buying an additional 121 shares during the last quarter. Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. boosted its holdings in Darden Restaurants by 1.8% during the second quarter. Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc. now owns 6,345 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $573,000 after buying an additional 114 shares during the last quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS boosted its holdings in Darden Restaurants by 0.3% during the second quarter. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public School Empls Retrmt SYS now owns 9,238 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $835,000 after buying an additional 28 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Engineers Gate Manager LP boosted its holdings in Darden Restaurants by 262.1% during the second quarter. Engineers Gate Manager LP now owns 9,778 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $884,000 after buying an additional 7,078 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 91.45% of the company’s stock.

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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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