Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE:EAT) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Brinker’s shares have underperformed the industry year to date. Notably, the company’s revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in eight of the trailing ten quarters, mainly due to traffic decline at its restaurants. The company’s presence in energy-exposed markets, where the economy is currently sluggish due to the persistent decline in oil prices, may continue to hurt traffic. Nevertheless, the company’s aggressive expansion strategies, sales building initiatives should boost comps. Also, various operational, remodeling and digital initiatives are expected to drive growth. Yet, higher labor and costs related to initiatives might continue to hurt margins in the near term. Additionally, a slowdown in some of the international markets that the company operates in and overall choppiness in the restaurant space might also keep on pressurizing comps in the coming quarters.”

Other equities analysts have also issued research reports about the stock. Maxim Group restated a “buy” rating and set a $49.00 target price (down previously from $54.00) on shares of Brinker International in a research report on Wednesday, August 9th. ValuEngine upgraded shares of Brinker International from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report on Thursday, July 27th. Barclays PLC restated an “equal weight” rating and set a $47.00 target price on shares of Brinker International in a research report on Tuesday, July 4th. Piper Jaffray Companies restated a “hold” rating on shares of Brinker International in a research report on Friday, August 11th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets set a $36.00 target price on shares of Brinker International and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Saturday, August 12th. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have given a hold rating and three have issued a buy rating to the stock. Brinker International currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $43.50.

Brinker International (NYSE EAT) traded up 2.04% during mid-day trading on Tuesday, hitting $32.46. 1,573,609 shares of the stock were exchanged. Brinker International has a 52 week low of $29.50 and a 52 week high of $55.84. The stock has a market capitalization of $1.57 billion, a PE ratio of 11.04 and a beta of 0.26. The company has a 50-day moving average of $31.84 and a 200-day moving average of $37.71.

Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, August 10th. The restaurant operator reported $1.09 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $1.04 by $0.05. Brinker International had a net margin of 4.79% and a negative return on equity of 31.46%. The firm had revenue of $810.66 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $809.94 million. During the same period in the prior year, the company posted $1.24 earnings per share. The company’s revenue for the quarter was down 8.1% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts predict that Brinker International will post $3.23 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Brinker International declared that its board has approved a stock buyback plan on Thursday, August 10th that allows the company to buyback $250.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization allows the restaurant operator to reacquire up to 14.6% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are usually a sign that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

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In other Brinker International news, Director Michael A. George acquired 16,450 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 6th. The stock was acquired at an average price of $30.31 per share, for a total transaction of $498,599.50. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 49,952 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,514,045.12. The purchase was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. 1.91% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the business. Bruderman Asset Management LLC bought a new stake in shares of Brinker International in the 2nd quarter worth about $123,000. LS Investment Advisors LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Brinker International by 14.2% in the 2nd quarter. LS Investment Advisors LLC now owns 4,689 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $179,000 after acquiring an additional 582 shares during the last quarter. Kernodle & Katon Asset Management Group LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Brinker International by 0.4% in the 1st quarter. Kernodle & Katon Asset Management Group LLC now owns 4,864 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $214,000 after acquiring an additional 17 shares during the last quarter. ING Groep NV bought a new stake in shares of Brinker International in the 2nd quarter worth about $227,000. Finally, Profund Advisors LLC lifted its holdings in shares of Brinker International by 0.8% in the 2nd quarter. Profund Advisors LLC now owns 6,849 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $261,000 after acquiring an additional 57 shares during the last quarter.

About Brinker International

Brinker International, Inc is engaged in the ownership, operation, development, and franchising of the Chili’s Grill & Bar (Chili’s) and Maggiano’s Little Italy (Maggiano’s) restaurant brands. The Company’s Chili’s operates Bar & Grill category of casual dining. Chili’s menu features authentic Fresh Mex and Fresh Tex cuisine, including signature items, such as Baby Back Ribs smoked in-house, Hand-Crafted Burgers served with house-made garlic dill pickles, Mix and Match Fajitas, Tableside Guacamole and house-made Chips and Salsa.

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