Stephens Initiates Coverage on Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

Stephens began coverage on shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRIGet Rating) in a research note published on Thursday morning, The Fly reports. The brokerage issued an overweight rating on the restaurant operator’s stock.

A number of other equities analysts have also commented on the company. Sanford C. Bernstein initiated coverage on Darden Restaurants in a research note on Wednesday, September 7th. They set an outperform rating and a $153.00 price target for the company. Oppenheimer dropped their price target on Darden Restaurants from $175.00 to $155.00 and set an outperform rating for the company in a research note on Wednesday, June 22nd. Raymond James dropped their price target on Darden Restaurants from $153.00 to $136.00 in a research note on Wednesday, June 15th. Piper Sandler decreased their price objective on Darden Restaurants from $153.00 to $150.00 and set an overweight rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, June 24th. Finally, Credit Suisse Group decreased their price objective on Darden Restaurants from $175.00 to $152.00 and set an outperform rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, June 24th. Four equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and eighteen have issued a buy rating to the company. According to MarketBeat.com, Darden Restaurants presently has a consensus rating of Moderate Buy and a consensus price target of $144.19.

Darden Restaurants Stock Performance

NYSE DRI opened at $125.45 on Thursday. The firm has a market cap of $15.55 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 16.95, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.75 and a beta of 1.30. The company has a quick ratio of 0.49, a current ratio of 0.64 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.41. The business has a 50-day moving average price of $126.54 and a 200-day moving average price of $125.52. Darden Restaurants has a twelve month low of $110.96 and a twelve month high of $164.28.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRIGet Rating) last released its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, September 22nd. The restaurant operator reported $1.56 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.56. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 39.05% and a net margin of 9.89%. The firm had revenue of $2.45 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.47 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $1.76 earnings per share. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 6.1% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, equities research analysts predict that Darden Restaurants will post 7.7 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Darden Restaurants Dividend Announcement

The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, November 1st. Shareholders of record on Monday, October 10th will be issued a dividend of $1.21 per share. This represents a $4.84 annualized dividend and a yield of 3.86%. Darden Restaurants’s payout ratio is currently 65.41%.

Darden Restaurants announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, June 23rd that authorizes the company to buyback $1.00 billion in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the restaurant operator to reacquire up to 6.6% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are often a sign that the company’s management believes its shares are undervalued.

Insider Buying and Selling at Darden Restaurants

In related news, Director Timothy J. Wilmott bought 10,000 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Tuesday, June 28th. The shares were acquired at an average price of $120.00 per share, with a total value of $1,200,000.00. Following the transaction, the director now owns 27,094 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $3,251,280. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available at this hyperlink. In other news, Director Nana Mensah sold 567 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, July 15th. The stock was sold at an average price of $117.03, for a total value of $66,356.01. Following the completion of the sale, the director now owns 10 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,170.30. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, Director Timothy J. Wilmott acquired 10,000 shares of the stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, June 28th. The stock was acquired at an average cost of $120.00 per share, with a total value of $1,200,000.00. Following the transaction, the director now directly owns 27,094 shares in the company, valued at $3,251,280. The disclosure for this purchase can be found here. Insiders own 0.93% of the company’s stock.

Institutional Trading of Darden Restaurants

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the business. Kentucky Retirement Systems Insurance Trust Fund boosted its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 6.6% in the 1st quarter. Kentucky Retirement Systems Insurance Trust Fund now owns 3,770 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $501,000 after purchasing an additional 232 shares in the last quarter. Boston Partners lifted its position in Darden Restaurants by 2.4% during the 1st quarter. Boston Partners now owns 914,158 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $121,521,000 after acquiring an additional 21,577 shares during the period. Independent Advisor Alliance lifted its position in Darden Restaurants by 180.3% during the 1st quarter. Independent Advisor Alliance now owns 4,535 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $603,000 after acquiring an additional 2,917 shares during the period. Citigroup Inc. lifted its position in Darden Restaurants by 3.3% during the 1st quarter. Citigroup Inc. now owns 292,341 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $38,867,000 after acquiring an additional 9,433 shares during the period. Finally, Rafferty Asset Management LLC acquired a new stake in Darden Restaurants during the 4th quarter worth about $204,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 89.62% of the company’s stock.

Darden Restaurants Company Profile

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Darden Restaurants, Inc, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates full-service restaurants in the United States and Canada. As of May 29, 2022, it owned and operated 1,867 restaurants, which included 884 under the Olive Garden brand, 546 under the LongHorn Steakhouse brand name, 172 under the Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen brand, 85 under the Yard House brand name, 62 under The Capital Grille brand, 45 under the Seasons 52 brand name, 42 under the Bahama Breeze brand, 28 under the Eddie V's Prime Seafood brand name, and 3 under the Capital Burger brand; and franchised 60 restaurants comprising 35 under the Olive Garden brand, 18 under the LongHorn Steakhouse brand name, 4 under the Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen brand, 2 under The Capital Grille brand name, and 1 under the Bahama Breeze brand.Darden Restaurants, Inc was founded in 1968 and is based in Orlando, Florida.

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