Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Darden provided a weak guidance for fiscal 2017 earnings at the fiscal fourth quarter conference call. Moreover, though the company posted positive comps across all brands in the fiscal fourth quarter, the figures compared unfavorably with the prior-quarter comps. The company also witnessed a decline in sales across all its segments in the quarter. Going forward, sales initiatives like simplifying kitchen systems, menu innovation coupled with technology-driven moves should boost the top line. Estimates have been mostly stable lately ahead of Darden’s first-quarter fiscal 2017 earnings release. Meanwhile, the company has positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters. However, we are yet to see sustained improvement in its flagship brand, Olive Garden. Moreover, Darden’s rising labor costs and a non-franchised business model might dampen profits, while a soft consumer spending environment could keep comps under pressure.”

A number of other equities analysts have also issued reports on the stock. Robert W. Baird reiterated a “neutral” rating on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Thursday, September 8th. Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. restated an “outperform” rating and set a $70.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Wednesday, September 7th. BMO Capital Markets restated a “hold” rating and set a $64.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Thursday, September 1st. Piper Jaffray Cos. restated an “overweight” rating and set a $76.00 price objective on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Thursday, August 25th. Finally, Canaccord Genuity assumed coverage on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Monday, August 22nd. They set a “buy” rating and a $74.00 price objective for the company. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have given a hold rating and eleven have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $71.06.

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Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) remained flat at $61.39 during midday trading on Tuesday. 382,189 shares of the company were exchanged. Darden Restaurants has a 52 week low of $53.38 and a 52 week high of $72.11. The stock has a market capitalization of $7.75 billion, a PE ratio of 21.18 and a beta of 0.52. The company has a 50-day moving average price of $62.00 and a 200-day moving average price of $64.24.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, June 30th. The restaurant operator reported $1.10 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.08 by $0.02. The firm earned $1.79 billion during the quarter. Darden Restaurants had a net margin of 5.41% and a return on equity of 21.95%. The business’s quarterly revenue was down 4.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company earned $1.01 EPS. On average, equities research analysts predict that Darden Restaurants will post $3.87 EPS for the current year.

In related news, Director James P. Fogarty purchased 3,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Thursday, July 7th. The shares were bought at an average price of $61.70 per share, for a total transaction of $185,100.00. Following the completion of the acquisition, the director now directly owns 7,890 shares in the company, valued at approximately $486,813. The purchase was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Company insiders own 0.68% of the company’s stock.

Institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in the stock. Trust Co. of Toledo NA OH increased its position in shares of Darden Restaurants by 2.0% in the second quarter. Trust Co. of Toledo NA OH now owns 23,271 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $1,474,000 after buying an additional 451 shares during the period. First Manhattan Co. increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 62.4% in the second quarter. First Manhattan Co. now owns 2,679 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $169,000 after buying an additional 1,029 shares during the last quarter. Aviva PLC increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 0.7% in the first quarter. Aviva PLC now owns 138,386 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $9,175,000 after buying an additional 1,025 shares during the last quarter. Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 5.1% in the second quarter. Exxonmobil Investment Management Inc. TX now owns 29,523 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $1,870,000 after buying an additional 1,423 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Geode Capital Management LLC increased its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 10.6% in the first quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 1,042,277 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $68,977,000 after buying an additional 99,531 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 94.74% of the company’s stock.

Darden Restaurants Company Profile

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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