Traders bought shares of Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI) on weakness during trading hours on Friday. $24.65 million flowed into the stock on the tick-up and $22.05 million flowed out of the stock on the tick-down, for a money net flow of $2.60 million into the stock. Of all equities tracked, Darden Restaurants had the 14th highest net in-flow for the day. Darden Restaurants traded down ($0.04) for the day and closed at $62.03

DRI has been the topic of a number of recent research reports. Jefferies Group reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $64.00 price target (down previously from $66.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Saturday, July 2nd. Citigroup Inc. increased their price objective on Darden Restaurants from $73.00 to $75.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Saturday, April 16th. Maxim Group increased their price objective on Darden Restaurants from $70.00 to $79.00 and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, March 11th. Sanford C. Bernstein started coverage on Darden Restaurants in a report on Thursday, May 26th. They set a “market perform” rating on the stock. Finally, Robert W. Baird reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Monday, May 16th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and eleven have given a buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $72.80.

The firm has a 50 day moving average of $66.25 and a 200-day moving average of $64.28. The firm has a market capitalization of $7.84 billion and a price-to-earnings ratio of 21.40.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, June 30th. The restaurant operator reported $1.10 EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.02. During the same quarter last year, the firm earned $1.01 EPS. The business earned $1.79 billion during the quarter. The firm’s quarterly revenue was down 4.7% on a year-over-year basis. On average, equities analysts forecast that Darden Restaurants Inc. will post $3.88 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Monday, August 1st. Stockholders of record on Monday, July 11th will be given a $0.56 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, July 7th. This represents a $2.24 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.61%. This is a positive change from Darden Restaurants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.50.

In other news, Director Alan N. Stillman sold 2,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, April 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $63.50, for a total value of $127,000.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 3,100 shares in the company, valued at $196,850. The sale was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink.

Other institutional investors have made changes to their positions in the company. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 5.2% in the fourth quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 11,471,613 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $730,053,000 after buying an additional 566,686 shares during the last quarter. Marshall Wace LLP purchased a new stake in Darden Restaurants during the fourth quarter worth approximately $27,477,000. BHF Kleinwort Benson Group S.A. purchased a new stake in Darden Restaurants during the fourth quarter worth approximately $12,890,000. WBI Investments Inc. increased its stake in Darden Restaurants by 182.3% in the fourth quarter. WBI Investments Inc. now owns 288,824 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $18,381,000 after buying an additional 186,512 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Schroder Investment Management Group purchased a new stake in Darden Restaurants during the fourth quarter worth approximately $11,729,000.

Darden Restaurants, Inc is a full service restaurant company. The Company owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants. The Company’s restaurant brands include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Wildfish Seafood Grill and Yard House.

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