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

Other equities analysts have also issued reports about the company. Argus upped their target price on Darden Restaurants from $108.00 to $125.00 in a research report on Monday, June 25th. Barclays upped their target price on Darden Restaurants from $117.00 to $121.00 and gave the stock a $112.15 rating in a research report on Wednesday, July 18th. Zacks Investment Research raised Darden Restaurants from a hold rating to a buy rating and set a $126.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Monday, July 16th. Citigroup upped their target price on Darden Restaurants from $100.00 to $128.00 and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, July 12th. Finally, ValuEngine raised Darden Restaurants from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report on Friday, June 22nd. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, eight have assigned a hold rating and sixteen have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has an average rating of Buy and a consensus target price of $118.58.

Shares of NYSE:DRI traded down $3.25 during trading on Thursday, reaching $106.41. 39,170 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,629,183. The company has a quick ratio of 0.26, a current ratio of 0.41 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.41. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $79.18 and a 1-year high of $124.00. The firm has a market capitalization of $13.64 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 22.66, a PEG ratio of 2.09 and a beta of 0.17.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, September 20th. The restaurant operator reported $1.34 earnings per share for the quarter, topping 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 analyst estimates of $2.03 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $0.99 earnings per share. Darden Restaurants’s revenue for the quarter was up 6.5% on a year-over-year basis. Equities research analysts anticipate that Darden Restaurants will post 5.62 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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

In other Darden Restaurants news, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 60,688 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 26th. The stock was sold at an average price of $112.63, for a total value of $6,835,289.44. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 147,561 shares in the company, valued at approximately $16,619,795.43. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, SVP Douglas J. Milanes sold 2,186 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, July 23rd. The shares were 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 approximately $87,959.52. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 118,545 shares of company stock valued at $13,103,896 over the last three months. 0.65% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

A number of large investors have recently made changes to their positions in DRI. Millennium Management LLC grew its stake in Darden Restaurants by 290.8% in the 2nd quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 1,287,465 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $137,836,000 after purchasing an additional 958,040 shares during the period. Morgan Stanley grew its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 100.8% during the 2nd quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 1,520,183 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $162,751,000 after acquiring an additional 763,239 shares during the period. Voya Investment Management LLC grew its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 608.9% during the 2nd quarter. Voya Investment Management LLC now owns 699,834 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $74,923,000 after acquiring an additional 601,115 shares during the period. Renaissance Technologies LLC grew its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 845.5% during the 2nd quarter. Renaissance Technologies LLC now owns 539,900 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $57,802,000 after acquiring an additional 482,800 shares during the period. Finally, BlackRock Inc. grew its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 3.8% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 11,054,427 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $1,183,487,000 after acquiring an additional 401,736 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 89.11% of the company’s stock.

About Darden Restaurants

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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