Zacks: Brokerages Anticipate Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) to Post $1.06 EPS

Wall Street brokerages expect Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) to report earnings per share of $1.06 for the current fiscal quarter, Zacks reports. Twelve analysts have made estimates for Darden Restaurants’ earnings. The highest EPS estimate is $1.12 and the lowest is $1.00. Darden Restaurants posted earnings of $0.92 per share in the same quarter last year, which would suggest a positive year over year growth rate of 15.2%. The business is expected to report its next earnings results on Tuesday, December 17th.

On average, analysts expect that Darden Restaurants will report full-year earnings of $6.39 per share for the current year, with EPS estimates ranging from $6.30 to $6.50. For the next financial year, analysts forecast that the company will report earnings of $6.79 per share, with EPS estimates ranging from $6.63 to $7.02. Zacks’ EPS averages are a mean average based on a survey of sell-side research analysts that that provide coverage for Darden Restaurants.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, September 19th. The restaurant operator reported $1.38 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.36 by $0.02. Darden Restaurants had a net margin of 8.36% and a return on equity of 31.37%. The firm had revenue of $2.13 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $2.13 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $1.34 earnings per share. Darden Restaurants’s quarterly revenue was up 3.5% on a year-over-year basis.

A number of equities research analysts recently issued reports on DRI shares. SunTrust Banks dropped their price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants from $141.00 to $139.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a report on Friday, September 20th. Wedbush reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $125.00 target price on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Thursday, August 29th. Piper Jaffray Companies reaffirmed an “overweight” rating and set a $128.00 target price (up previously from $125.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Friday, September 20th. ValuEngine lowered shares of Darden Restaurants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Thursday, August 1st. Finally, Deutsche Bank started coverage on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Friday, June 28th. They set a “hold” rating and a $123.00 target price for the company. Eleven investment analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and twelve have assigned a buy rating to the stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $126.85.

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 shares were sold at an average price of $124.87, for a total transaction of $1,764,163.36. Following the sale, the chief financial officer now owns 23,848 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,977,899.76. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, SVP John W. Madonna sold 1,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, July 30th. The stock was sold at an average price of $124.12, for a total transaction of $124,120.00. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 8,726 shares in the company, valued at approximately $1,083,071.12. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders have sold 28,728 shares of company stock worth $3,565,803. 0.47% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in DRI. BRITISH COLUMBIA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT Corp grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 26.3% in the 2nd quarter. BRITISH COLUMBIA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT Corp now owns 42,784 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $5,208,000 after buying an additional 8,903 shares during the last quarter. Hancock Whitney Corp purchased a new position in Darden Restaurants in the 2nd quarter valued at $414,000. Toronto Dominion Bank grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 178.1% in the 2nd quarter. Toronto Dominion Bank now owns 271,982 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $33,090,000 after buying an additional 174,173 shares during the last quarter. Atria Investments LLC grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 43.8% in the 2nd quarter. Atria Investments LLC now owns 31,299 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $3,713,000 after buying an additional 9,527 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Keudell Morrison Wealth Management purchased a new position in Darden Restaurants in the 2nd quarter valued at $3,037,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 91.30% of the company’s stock.

Shares of DRI traded up $2.16 during mid-day trading on Monday, reaching $118.52. The stock had a trading volume of 47,466 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,417,408. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 2.18, a current ratio of 0.43 and a quick ratio of 0.30. Darden Restaurants has a 52-week low of $95.83 and a 52-week high of $128.41. The business’s fifty day moving average is $121.56 and its 200 day moving average is $119.99. The firm has a market cap of $14.33 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 20.36, a P/E/G ratio of 2.06 and a beta of 0.34.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, November 1st. Shareholders of record on Thursday, October 10th will be issued a dividend of $0.88 per share. The ex-dividend date is Wednesday, October 9th. This represents a $3.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.97%. Darden Restaurants’s payout ratio is currently 60.48%.

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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