Brinker International (EAT) Lifted to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report issued on Tuesday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $40.00 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. Also, various operational, remodeling and digital initiatives are likely to drive growth. The company’s shares outperformed the industry in the past six months. Meanwhile, estimates for 2018 have gone up over the last 60 days. However, the company’s revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in 10 of the trailing 12 quarters, mainly due to traffic decline at its restaurants. Further, higher labor as well as costs related to various initiatives might hurt margins, while overall choppiness in the restaurant space might keep on pressurizing comps in the upcoming quarters.”

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Other research analysts have also issued reports about the company. ValuEngine lowered Brinker International from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research report on Friday, February 2nd. Barclays lowered their price objective on Brinker International from $42.00 to $40.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a research report on Wednesday, January 31st. Citigroup increased their price objective on Brinker International from $39.00 to $41.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Tuesday, February 6th. BMO Capital Markets reiterated a hold rating on shares of Brinker International in a research report on Wednesday, January 31st. Finally, Telsey Advisory Group reiterated a market perform rating and issued a $39.00 price objective (up from $37.00) on shares of Brinker International in a research report on Wednesday, January 31st. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have given a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The company has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $41.00.

NYSE:EAT opened at $38.67 on Tuesday. Brinker International has a one year low of $29.50 and a one year high of $45.81. The company has a quick ratio of 0.38, a current ratio of 0.43 and a debt-to-equity ratio of -2.47. The company has a market capitalization of $1,789.93, a P/E ratio of 12.08, a P/E/G ratio of 1.03 and a beta of 0.06.

Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, January 30th. The restaurant operator reported $0.87 EPS for the quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $0.72 by $0.15. Brinker International had a negative return on equity of 30.98% and a net margin of 4.10%. The firm had revenue of $766.40 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $773.84 million. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $0.71 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down .6% on a year-over-year basis. equities research analysts anticipate that Brinker International will post 3.44 earnings per share for the current year.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, March 29th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 9th were given a dividend of $0.38 per share. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, March 8th. This represents a $1.52 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.93%. Brinker International’s dividend payout ratio is currently 47.50%.

In other news, VP Michaela M. Ware sold 830 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, February 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $34.08, for a total transaction of $28,286.40. Following the completion of the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 8,181 shares in the company, valued at $278,808.48. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, Director Andres Tinajero sold 200,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, January 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $0.57, for a total value of $114,000.00. Company insiders own 1.91% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in EAT. Nationwide Fund Advisors boosted its position in shares of Brinker International by 5.2% during the third quarter. Nationwide Fund Advisors now owns 136,913 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $4,362,000 after buying an additional 6,749 shares during the period. Rhumbline Advisers boosted its position in shares of Brinker International by 14.3% during the third quarter. Rhumbline Advisers now owns 118,601 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $3,779,000 after buying an additional 14,868 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp boosted its position in shares of Brinker International by 1.4% during the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 1,106,506 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $35,253,000 after buying an additional 15,734 shares during the period. Russell Investments Group Ltd. boosted its position in shares of Brinker International by 235.7% during the third quarter. Russell Investments Group Ltd. now owns 72,064 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $2,297,000 after buying an additional 50,599 shares during the period. Finally, Macquarie Group Ltd. boosted its position in shares of Brinker International by 18.1% during the third quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 39,200 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $1,249,000 after buying an additional 6,000 shares during the period.

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About Brinker International

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.

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