Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was upgraded by equities research analysts at Guggenheim to a “buy” rating in a note issued to investors on Thursday.

A number of other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports on the stock. Canaccord Genuity assumed coverage on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Monday, August 22nd. They issued a “buy” rating and a $74.00 price objective for the company. Credit Suisse Group AG reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $69.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Wednesday, October 5th. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Darden Restaurants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $69.00 price objective for the company in a research note on Thursday, October 6th. BMO Capital Markets reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $64.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Thursday, September 1st. Finally, Morgan Stanley reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $67.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Tuesday, September 27th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have assigned a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Darden Restaurants currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $70.79.

Analyst Recommendations for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

Shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) opened at 73.30 on Thursday. The company has a market capitalization of $9.02 billion, a PE ratio of 23.67 and a beta of 0.23. Darden Restaurants has a 12 month low of $55.01 and a 12 month high of $74.99. The firm’s 50-day moving average is $66.59 and its 200 day moving average is $64.26.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 4th. The restaurant operator reported $0.88 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.82 by $0.06. Darden Restaurants had a net margin of 5.73% and a return on equity of 24.97%. The business earned $1.71 billion during the quarter. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.68 EPS. Darden Restaurants’s quarterly revenue was up 1.6% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts predict that Darden Restaurants will post $3.93 EPS for the current year.

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, November 1st. Investors of record on Monday, October 10th were given a dividend of $0.56 per share. This represents a $2.24 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.06%. The ex-dividend date was Wednesday, October 5th. Darden Restaurants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is 72.03%.

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In related news, SVP Danielle L. Kirgan sold 8,780 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, October 11th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.47, for a total transaction of $548,486.60. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 15,989 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $998,832.83. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, SVP Danielle L. Kirgan sold 28,127 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Monday, October 10th. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.47, for a total transaction of $1,757,093.69. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 15,989 shares in the company, valued at $998,832.83. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Corporate insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.

A number of hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in DRI. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 5.3% in the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 12,676,075 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $802,903,000 after buying an additional 640,845 shares during the period. BlackRock Fund Advisors increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 5.1% in the third quarter. BlackRock Fund Advisors now owns 4,882,895 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $299,419,000 after buying an additional 236,071 shares during the period. Bank of New York Mellon Corp increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 5.3% in the third quarter. Bank of New York Mellon Corp now owns 4,111,161 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $252,097,000 after buying an additional 208,345 shares during the period. Ameriprise Financial Inc. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 16.3% in the second quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 3,893,719 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $246,621,000 after buying an additional 544,413 shares during the period. Finally, BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 7.4% in the third quarter. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company N.A. now owns 3,553,018 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $217,871,000 after buying an additional 245,968 shares during the period. 88.85% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Darden Restaurants Company Profile

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).

5 Day Chart for NYSE:DRI

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