Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Ruth's Hospitality Group (NASDAQ:RUTH) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc., headquartered in Winter Park, Florida, is the largest fine dining steakhouse company in the U.S. as measured by the total number of Company-owned and franchisee-owned restaurants, with over 150 Ruth’s Chris Steak House locations worldwide specializing in USDA Prime grade steaks served in Ruth’s Chris’ signature fashion – sizzling. “

Ruth's Hospitality Group (NASDAQ:RUTH) traded up $0.45 during trading on Tuesday, reaching $22.05. 136,500 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 175,375. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.37, a current ratio of 0.41 and a quick ratio of 0.29. Ruth's Hospitality Group has a 12 month low of $16.55 and a 12 month high of $22.65. The stock has a market cap of $677.86, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.97, a P/E/G ratio of 1.30 and a beta of 0.35.

Ruth's Hospitality Group (NASDAQ:RUTH) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Friday, November 3rd. The restaurant operator reported $0.06 earnings per share for the quarter, missing the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.09 by ($0.03). Ruth's Hospitality Group had a return on equity of 35.46% and a net margin of 7.47%. The firm had revenue of $85.16 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $87.20 million. During the same period last year, the company earned $0.10 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 1.7% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts predict that Ruth's Hospitality Group will post 1.03 EPS for the current year.

Ruth's Hospitality Group announced that its board has authorized a share buyback program on Friday, November 3rd that permits the company to repurchase $60.00 million in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization permits the restaurant operator to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares repurchase programs are often a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

In related news, COO Cheryl Janet Henry sold 18,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, December 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $21.47, for a total value of $386,460.00. Following the sale, the chief operating officer now directly owns 343,617 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $7,377,456.99. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, COO Kevin W. Toomy sold 24,548 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, November 20th. The stock was sold at an average price of $19.91, for a total transaction of $488,750.68. Following the transaction, the chief operating officer now directly owns 157,551 shares in the company, valued at $3,136,840.41. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 44,404 shares of company stock worth $912,331 over the last three months. 7.45% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Inc. increased its position in shares of Ruth's Hospitality Group by 10.0% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 4,287,383 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $93,252,000 after acquiring an additional 389,525 shares during the period. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Ruth's Hospitality Group by 1.9% during the second quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 2,378,750 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $51,737,000 after acquiring an additional 44,441 shares during the period. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its position in shares of Ruth's Hospitality Group by 2.0% during the third quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 1,662,250 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $34,824,000 after acquiring an additional 33,385 shares during the period. Allianz Asset Management GmbH increased its position in shares of Ruth's Hospitality Group by 73.5% during the third quarter. Allianz Asset Management GmbH now owns 1,469,161 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $30,779,000 after acquiring an additional 622,386 shares during the period. Finally, Principal Financial Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Ruth's Hospitality Group by 227.5% during the second quarter. Principal Financial Group Inc. now owns 775,973 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $16,877,000 after acquiring an additional 539,034 shares during the period. 81.32% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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Ruth's Hospitality Group Company Profile

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc develops and operates fine dining restaurants under the name, Ruth’s Chris Steak House. The Company operates through two segments. As of December 25, 2016, the Company-owned steakhouse restaurant segment included 68 Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants and one Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurant, and the franchise operations segment included 81 franchisee-owned Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants.

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