Traders Purchase Large Volume of Call Options on Darden Restaurants (DRI)

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) was the target of unusually large options trading activity on Thursday. Stock traders bought 5,143 call options on the company. This is an increase of 2,593% compared to the typical daily volume of 191 call options.

DRI opened at $85.06 on Friday. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $76.27 and a 1-year high of $100.11. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44, a quick ratio of 0.25 and a current ratio of 0.39. The company has a market capitalization of $10.77 billion, a PE ratio of 21.16, a P/E/G ratio of 1.67 and a beta of 0.22.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, March 22nd. The restaurant operator reported $1.71 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.64 by $0.07. Darden Restaurants had a net margin of 6.92% and a return on equity of 28.12%. The company had revenue of $2.13 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.15 billion. During the same period last year, the company posted $1.32 EPS. The firm’s quarterly revenue was up 13.3% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts expect that Darden Restaurants will post 4.77 earnings per share for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, May 1st. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, April 10th were paid a $0.63 dividend. The ex-dividend date was Monday, April 9th. This represents a $2.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.96%. Darden Restaurants’s payout ratio is currently 62.69%.

A number of research firms recently commented on DRI. Mizuho began coverage on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Thursday, March 15th. They set a “buy” rating and a $105.00 price target on the stock. Stifel Nicolaus lowered their price target on shares of Darden Restaurants from $105.00 to $100.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, March 23rd. BMO Capital Markets lowered their price target on shares of Darden Restaurants from $99.00 to $97.00 and set a “market perform” rating on the stock in a research report on Thursday, March 22nd. Barclays lowered their price target on shares of Darden Restaurants from $116.00 to $105.00 and set an “overweight” rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, March 23rd. Finally, Deutsche Bank decreased their target price on shares of Darden Restaurants from $99.00 to $96.00 and set a “hold” rating on the stock in a report on Friday, March 23rd. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have issued a hold rating and fifteen have given a buy rating to the company. Darden Restaurants presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $98.43.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of DRI. Victory Capital Management Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 1,963.6% in the 4th quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,067,552 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $198,526,000 after purchasing an additional 1,967,362 shares in the last quarter. Lord Abbett & CO. LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Darden Restaurants in the 1st quarter valued at approximately $43,827,000. Mackay Shields LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Darden Restaurants in the 1st quarter valued at approximately $34,898,000. American Century Companies Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 29.2% in the 4th quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 1,689,176 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $162,195,000 after purchasing an additional 381,677 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Millennium Management LLC boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 1,999.7% in the 1st quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 329,425 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $28,083,000 after purchasing an additional 313,736 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 90.94% of the company’s stock.

About Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants, Inc, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates full-service restaurants in the United States and Canada. As of June 27, 2017, it owned and operated approximately 1,700 restaurants under the Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, and Eddie V's brands.

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