HighTower Advisors LLC Raises Stake in Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI)

HighTower Advisors LLC boosted its position in Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) by 5.0% during the first quarter, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund owned 11,188 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock after buying an additional 533 shares during the period. HighTower Advisors LLC’s holdings in Darden Restaurants were worth $926,000 at the end of the most recent reporting period.

A number of other hedge funds have also recently made changes to their positions in the company. Vanguard Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 3.6% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 14,211,162 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $1,189,048,000 after buying an additional 487,366 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 4,601.4% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 11,464,253 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $959,215,000 after buying an additional 11,220,403 shares during the period. American International Group Inc. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 1.3% in the first quarter. American International Group Inc. now owns 6,198,698 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $518,645,000 after buying an additional 77,248 shares during the period. Ameriprise Financial Inc. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 3.0% in the first quarter. Ameriprise Financial Inc. now owns 3,734,166 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $312,519,000 after buying an additional 110,515 shares during the period. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 38.3% in the first quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 3,229,308 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $270,196,000 after buying an additional 894,403 shares during the period. 96.84% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) opened at 90.17 on Monday. Darden Restaurants, Inc. has a 1-year low of $59.50 and a 1-year high of $95.22. The stock has a market cap of $11.27 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 23.71 and a beta of 0.28. The stock has a 50 day moving average of $89.37 and a 200 day moving average of $80.52.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, June 27th. The restaurant operator reported $1.18 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.15 by $0.03. The firm had revenue of $1.94 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.86 billion. Darden Restaurants had a net margin of 6.68% and a return on equity of 26.18%. The company’s revenue was up 8.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $1.10 EPS. Equities analysts expect that Darden Restaurants, Inc. will post $4.47 earnings per share for the current year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, August 1st. Investors of record on Monday, July 10th will be given a dividend of $0.63 per share. This represents a $2.52 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 2.79%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Thursday, July 6th. This is an increase from Darden Restaurants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.56. Darden Restaurants’s dividend payout ratio is 66.14%.

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Several equities analysts have issued reports on DRI shares. J P Morgan Chase & Co reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and set a $93.00 price objective (up from $82.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Wednesday, June 28th. Canaccord Genuity reaffirmed a “buy” rating and set a $102.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Friday, June 9th. BMO Capital Markets increased their price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants from $85.00 to $87.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a report on Friday, June 30th. Credit Suisse Group reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $74.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Wednesday, March 29th. Finally, Morgan Stanley reaffirmed an “equal weight” rating and set a $86.00 price objective (up from $83.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a report on Thursday, June 22nd. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seventeen have assigned a hold rating and six have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $84.43.

In other Darden Restaurants news, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 93,125 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, June 29th. The stock was sold at an average price of $91.58, for a total value of $8,528,387.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 165,062 shares in the company, valued at approximately $15,116,377.96. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this hyperlink. 0.68% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

About Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants, Inc is a full-service restaurant company. The Company owned and operated 1,536 restaurants through its subsidiaries in the United States and Canada, as of May 29, 2016. The Company’s segments include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Fine Dining (which includes The Capital Grille, and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood and Wildfish Seafood Grille (Eddie V’s)) and Other Business (which includes Yard House, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, consumer-packaged goods and franchise revenues).

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Institutional Ownership by Quarter for Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI)

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