Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) Downgraded by Zacks Investment Research

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Wednesday, July 12th.

According to Zacks, “Darden posted solid fourth-quarter fiscal 2017 results with both the bottom line and the top line beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate. In fact, this quarter marked the 11th successive earnings beat for the company. Meanwhile, Darden’s shares outpaced the Zacks categorized Retail–Restaurants industry year to date. Going forward, various sales initiatives and technology-driven moves should boost the top line. Additionally, efforts to attract guests at Olive Garden, LongHorn and other units, along with the cost saving measures bode well. However, a soft consumer spending environment could keep comps under pressure, while rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model could dampen the company’s profits, moving ahead.”

DRI has been the subject of several other reports. Robert W. Baird reiterated a “neutral” rating and issued a $94.00 price target (up from $90.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Wednesday, June 28th. BMO Capital Markets boosted their price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants from $80.00 to $81.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research note on Thursday, March 30th. Royal Bank Of Canada reissued a “sector perform” rating and set a $96.00 price objective (up from $86.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Tuesday, June 27th. Deutsche Bank AG upped their price target on shares of Darden Restaurants from $84.00 to $94.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Finally, Jefferies Group LLC upped their price target on shares of Darden Restaurants from $80.00 to $90.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have issued a hold rating and six have given a buy rating to the stock. The company presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $84.78.

Shares of Darden Restaurants (DRI) opened at 83.34 on Wednesday. The company’s 50-day moving average is $87.37 and its 200 day moving average is $83.18. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $60.16 and a 1-year high of $95.22. The firm has a market capitalization of $10.45 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.91 and a beta of 0.27.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, June 27th. The restaurant operator reported $1.18 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.15 by $0.03. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 26.18% and a net margin of 6.68%. The firm had revenue of $1.94 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.86 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.10 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 8.1% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, analysts expect that Darden Restaurants will post $4.47 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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In other news, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 93,125 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, June 29th. The shares were sold at an average price of $91.58, for a total transaction of $8,528,387.50. Following the transaction, the insider now owns 165,062 shares in the company, valued at approximately $15,116,377.96. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Corporate insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the company. D.A. Davidson & CO. raised its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 1.7% in the second quarter. D.A. Davidson & CO. now owns 1,271 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $114,000 after buying an additional 21 shares during the period. Farmers & Merchants Investments Inc. raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 255.5% in the second quarter. Farmers & Merchants Investments Inc. now owns 1,422 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $129,000 after buying an additional 1,022 shares during the last quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 4.6% in the first quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp now owns 1,625 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $136,000 after buying an additional 71 shares during the last quarter. Ledyard National Bank raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 399.4% in the first quarter. Ledyard National Bank now owns 1,638 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $137,000 after buying an additional 1,310 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Huntington National Bank raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 4.6% in the second quarter. Huntington National Bank now owns 1,578 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $143,000 after buying an additional 70 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 95.48% of the company’s stock.

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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