Darden Restaurants (DRI) Cut to Hold at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report issued on Monday morning.

According to Zacks, “Darden’s shares outpaced its industry in the last six months. Most of its brands have witnessed growth over the past few quarters, given various sales initiatives like simplifying kitchen systems, operational excellence, menu innovation along with technology-driven moves. The acquisition of Cheddar's has added value to Darden's portfolio of differentiated brands. Further, the company’s efforts to check costs are commendable. Backed by these efforts, Darden’s third-quarter fiscal 2018 earnings topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the 14th consecutive quarter. Yet, rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model are likely to dampen the company’s profits while a soft industry backdrop might pressurize comps. However current-year estimates have moved northward over the past two months, reflecting analysts’ optimism surrounding the stock.”

DRI has been the subject of several other research reports. BMO Capital Markets decreased their target price on Darden Restaurants from $99.00 to $97.00 and set a market perform rating for the company in a research note on Thursday, March 22nd. Maxim Group reaffirmed a buy rating and set a $112.00 target price on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Wednesday, March 14th. Stifel Nicolaus decreased their target price on Darden Restaurants from $105.00 to $100.00 and set a buy rating for the company in a research note on Friday, March 23rd. Morgan Stanley decreased their target price on Darden Restaurants from $97.00 to $90.00 and set an equal weight rating for the company in a research note on Friday, March 23rd. Finally, Barclays decreased their target price on Darden Restaurants from $116.00 to $105.00 and set an overweight rating for the company in a research note on Friday, March 23rd. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have assigned a hold rating and fifteen have issued a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $98.30.

Shares of DRI stock opened at $92.38 on Monday. The stock has a market capitalization of $11.40 billion, a PE ratio of 22.98, a P/E/G ratio of 1.58 and a beta of 0.20. The company has a quick ratio of 0.25, a current ratio of 0.39 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $76.27 and a 1-year high of $100.11.

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

Several hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of DRI. Lord Abbett & CO. LLC bought a new position in shares of Darden Restaurants in the first quarter valued at approximately $43,827,000. Mackay Shields LLC bought a new position in shares of Darden Restaurants in the first quarter valued at approximately $34,898,000. Millennium Management LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 1,999.7% in the first 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. American Century Companies Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 18.6% in the first quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 2,002,547 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $170,717,000 after purchasing an additional 313,371 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 12.9% in the first quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,333,366 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $198,920,000 after purchasing an additional 265,814 shares in the last quarter. Institutional investors own 89.53% 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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Analyst Recommendations for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

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