Stock Traders Buy Large Volume of Call Options on Darden Restaurants (DRI)

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) was the recipient of unusually large options trading activity on Thursday. Investors purchased 5,143 call options on the company. This is an increase of 2,593% compared to the average volume of 191 call options.

A number of equities research analysts have recently issued reports on the stock. Zacks Investment Research raised shares of Darden Restaurants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $106.00 price target on the stock in a report on Monday, March 12th. Maxim Group reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $112.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Wednesday, March 14th. Mizuho assumed coverage on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Thursday, March 15th. They issued a “buy” rating and a $105.00 price target on the stock. Sanford C. Bernstein raised shares of Darden Restaurants from a “market perform” rating to an “outperform” rating in a report on Thursday, April 19th. Finally, Morgan Stanley lowered their price target on shares of Darden Restaurants from $97.00 to $90.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a report on Friday, March 23rd. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, twelve have issued a hold rating and fifteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. Darden Restaurants has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $98.43.

Shares of DRI opened at $85.94 on Friday. The company has a market capitalization of $10.77 billion, a P/E ratio of 21.38, a P/E/G ratio of 1.67 and a beta of 0.22. The company has a current ratio of 0.39, a quick ratio of 0.25 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.44. Darden Restaurants has a 1-year low of $87.01 and a 1-year high of $87.63.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, March 22nd. The restaurant operator reported $1.71 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $1.64 by $0.07. The business had revenue of $2.13 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.15 billion. Darden Restaurants had a net margin of 6.92% and a return on equity of 28.12%. Darden Restaurants’s quarterly revenue was up 13.3% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the firm posted $1.32 earnings per share. analysts anticipate that Darden Restaurants will post 4.77 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, May 1st. Shareholders of record on Tuesday, April 10th were given a dividend of $0.63 per share. This represents a $2.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.93%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend was Monday, April 9th. Darden Restaurants’s payout ratio is currently 62.69%.

A number of hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the business. Wells Fargo & Company MN grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 0.3% during the first quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 3,466,121 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $295,487,000 after acquiring an additional 9,044 shares during the last quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 12.9% during the first quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,333,366 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $198,920,000 after acquiring an additional 265,814 shares during the last quarter. American Century Companies Inc. grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 18.6% during the first quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 2,002,547 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $170,717,000 after acquiring an additional 313,371 shares during the last quarter. Allianz Asset Management GmbH grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 1.7% during the first quarter. Allianz Asset Management GmbH now owns 758,902 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $64,696,000 after acquiring an additional 12,328 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Two Sigma Advisers LP grew its position in Darden Restaurants by 49.1% during the fourth quarter. Two Sigma Advisers LP now owns 741,637 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $71,212,000 after acquiring an additional 244,302 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 90.94% of the company’s stock.

Darden Restaurants Company Profile

Darden Restaurants, Inc, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates full-service restaurants in the United States and Canada. As of June 27, 2017, it owned and operated approximately 1,700 restaurants under the Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, and Eddie V's brands.

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