Earnest Partners LLC Raises Position in Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI)

Earnest Partners LLC grew its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) by 0.8% in the 2nd quarter, according to the company in its most recent 13F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund owned 593,337 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock after purchasing an additional 4,499 shares during the period. Earnest Partners LLC’s holdings in Darden Restaurants were worth $72,227,000 at the end of the most recent quarter.

Several other institutional investors and hedge funds have also modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Inc. lifted its holdings in shares of Darden Restaurants by 23.3% during the 2nd quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 13,792,587 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $1,678,972,000 after purchasing an additional 2,605,688 shares during the last quarter. Newport Trust Co increased its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 0.7% in the 2nd quarter. Newport Trust Co now owns 2,608,233 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $317,500,000 after acquiring an additional 17,706 shares during the period. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 6.4% in the 2nd quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 2,079,677 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $253,159,000 after acquiring an additional 125,190 shares during the period. Geode Capital Management LLC increased its position 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 valued at $182,031,000 after acquiring an additional 189,466 shares during the period. Finally, American Century Companies Inc. increased its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 17.8% in the 1st quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 1,589,442 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $193,070,000 after acquiring an additional 240,234 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 91.28% of the company’s stock.

Several equities analysts recently issued reports on DRI shares. Wells Fargo & Co upped their target price on Darden Restaurants from $116.00 to $117.00 and gave the company a “market perform” rating in a research report on Thursday. Stephens downgraded Darden Restaurants from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and set a $121.75 price target on the stock. in a research report on Friday, June 28th. ValuEngine downgraded Darden Restaurants from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Thursday, August 1st. Wedbush reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $125.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Thursday, August 29th. Finally, Citigroup cut their price target on Darden Restaurants from $146.00 to $144.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research report on Friday, June 28th. One analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, eleven have assigned a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company. Darden Restaurants presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $130.82.

In related news, COO David C. George sold 69,779 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated 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 transaction, the chief operating officer now directly owns 109,344 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $13,476,648. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this link. Also, SVP John W. Madonna sold 1,000 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction dated Tuesday, July 30th. The shares were sold at an average price of $124.12, for a total transaction of $124,120.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now directly owns 8,726 shares in the company, valued at $1,083,071.12. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold a total of 96,907 shares of company stock worth $11,975,585 over the last ninety days. 0.47% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

NYSE:DRI opened at $127.92 on Friday. Darden Restaurants, Inc. has a 52 week low of $95.83 and a 52 week high of $127.99. The company has a quick ratio of 0.46, a current ratio of 0.61 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.39. The stock has a market capitalization of $15.63 billion, a PE ratio of 21.98, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 1.97 and a beta of 0.34. The stock’s 50-day moving average price is $121.62 and its 200-day moving average price is $119.14.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, June 20th. The restaurant operator reported $1.76 EPS for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate 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 analysts’ expectations of $2.24 billion. During the same period last year, the firm earned $1.39 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 4.5% on a year-over-year basis. Sell-side analysts expect that Darden Restaurants, Inc. will post 6.39 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

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

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