Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) Short Interest Update

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was the target of a large drop in short interest in the month of July. As of July 15th, there was short interest totalling 6,647,800 shares, a drop of 6.7% from the June 15th total of 7,121,700 shares. Based on an average daily trading volume, of 1,380,000 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is currently 4.8 days. Currently, 5.4% of the company’s stock are sold short.

DRI has been the topic of several recent analyst reports. Maxim Group downgraded Darden Restaurants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating and set a $126.00 target price on the stock. in a research note on Tuesday, July 16th. UBS Group reissued a “hold” rating and issued a $7.80 price objective on shares of Deutsche Bank in a research note on Friday, April 26th. Evercore ISI started coverage on Mondelez International in a research note on Tuesday, June 11th. They issued an “outperform” rating and a $62.00 price objective on the stock. Wedbush set a $130.00 price objective on Childrens Place and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, June 21st. Finally, Deutsche Bank set a $142.00 price objective on MCCORMICK & CO /SH and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, June 28th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and seventeen have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Darden Restaurants presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $131.19.

NYSE DRI traded down $0.79 on Tuesday, reaching $125.83. The stock had a trading volume of 10,791 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,014,182. The firm has a 50 day simple moving average of $122.31. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.39, a current ratio of 0.61 and a quick ratio of 0.46. Darden Restaurants has a 1 year low of $95.83 and a 1 year high of $126.75. The company has a market capitalization of $15.42 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.62, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.95 and a beta of 0.32.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, June 20th. The restaurant operator reported $1.76 EPS for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.73 by $0.03. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 31.61% and a net margin of 8.38%. The firm had revenue of $2.23 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.24 billion. During the same quarter in the previous year, the company posted $1.39 earnings per share. The business’s quarterly revenue was up 4.5% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, research analysts forecast that Darden Restaurants will post 6.39 EPS for the current year.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Thursday, August 1st. Shareholders of record on Wednesday, July 10th will be given a $0.88 dividend. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Tuesday, July 9th. This represents a $3.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a dividend yield of 2.80%. This is a boost from Darden Restaurants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.75. Darden Restaurants’s payout ratio is currently 60.48%.

In other Darden Restaurants news, CFO Ricardo Cardenas sold 14,128 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, July 12th. The stock was sold at an average price of $124.87, for a total transaction of $1,764,163.36. Following the completion of the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 23,848 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,977,899.76. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. Also, COO David C. George sold 69,779 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, June 24th. The shares were sold at an average price of $123.25, for a total value of $8,600,261.75. Following the sale, the chief operating officer now owns 109,344 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $13,476,648. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 95,907 shares of company stock worth $11,851,465. Company insiders own 0.65% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP raised its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 1.9% in the 4th quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 727,300 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $72,624,000 after buying an additional 13,527 shares in the last quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 11.6% in the 4th quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 1,825,671 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $182,031,000 after buying an additional 189,466 shares in the last quarter. Municipal Employees Retirement System of Michigan acquired a new position in shares of Darden Restaurants in the 4th quarter worth approximately $324,000. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans raised its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 1.8% in the 4th quarter. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans now owns 5,410 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $540,000 after buying an additional 95 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Cetera Advisor Networks LLC raised its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 5.5% in the 4th quarter. Cetera Advisor Networks LLC now owns 2,270 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $228,000 after buying an additional 118 shares in the last quarter. 88.49% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Darden Restaurants Company Profile

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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