Gordon Haskett Begins Coverage on Darden Restaurants (DRI)

Gordon Haskett assumed coverage on shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) in a report released on Thursday, The Fly reports. The brokerage issued an underperform rating and a $94.00 price target on the restaurant operator’s stock.

A number of other brokerages also recently weighed in on DRI. Robert W. Baird downgraded Darden Restaurants from an outperform rating to a neutral rating in a research report on Monday, September 10th. Argus increased their price target on Darden Restaurants to $240.00 and gave the company a buy rating in a research note on Thursday, September 13th. Morgan Stanley increased their price target on Darden Restaurants from $103.00 to $110.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a research note on Thursday, September 13th. Goldman Sachs Group upgraded Darden Restaurants from a neutral rating to a buy rating and increased their price target for the company from $106.00 to $130.00 in a research note on Tuesday, September 11th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Finally, Maxim Group reiterated a hold rating and issued a $112.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Thursday, September 20th. Two research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have issued a hold rating and sixteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $118.58.

Shares of DRI stock opened at $106.33 on Thursday. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $79.18 and a 1-year high of $124.00. The stock has a market cap of $13.20 billion, a P/E ratio of 20.57, a P/E/G ratio of 2.02 and a beta of 0.17. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.41, a quick ratio of 0.26 and a current ratio of 0.41.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last issued its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, September 20th. The restaurant operator reported $1.34 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.24 by $0.10. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 30.32% and a net margin of 7.84%. The company had revenue of $2.06 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.03 billion. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.99 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.5% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts anticipate that Darden Restaurants will post 5.62 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, November 1st. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, October 10th will be paid a $0.75 dividend. This represents a $3.00 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.82%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, October 9th. Darden Restaurants’s payout ratio is 26.20%.

In other news, COO David C. George sold 55,671 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, October 4th. The stock was sold at an average price of $108.24, for a total value of $6,025,829.04. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief operating officer now directly owns 95,236 shares in the company, valued at $10,308,344.64. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at the SEC website. Also, SVP Douglas J. Milanes sold 2,186 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Monday, July 23rd. The stock was sold at an average price of $111.06, for a total value of $242,777.16. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now owns 792 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $87,959.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 118,545 shares of company stock valued at $13,103,896. Company insiders own 0.65% of the company’s stock.

Several large investors have recently made changes to their positions in DRI. Millennium Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 290.8% in the second quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 1,287,465 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $137,836,000 after purchasing an additional 958,040 shares during the last quarter. Morgan Stanley raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 100.8% during the second quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 1,520,183 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $162,751,000 after acquiring an additional 763,239 shares in the last quarter. Voya Investment Management LLC raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 608.9% during the second quarter. Voya Investment Management LLC now owns 699,834 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $74,923,000 after acquiring an additional 601,115 shares in the last quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 845.5% during the second quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 539,900 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $57,802,000 after acquiring an additional 482,800 shares in the last quarter. Finally, BlackRock Inc. raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 3.8% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 11,054,427 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $1,183,487,000 after acquiring an additional 401,736 shares in the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 89.11% of the company’s stock.

Darden Restaurants Company Profile

Darden Restaurants, Inc, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates full-service restaurants in the United States and Canada. As of May 27, 2018, it owned and operated approximately 1,746 restaurants under the Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and Eddie V's brands.

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Analyst Recommendations for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

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