Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE:EAT) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a report issued on Friday. The brokerage currently has a $35.00 price target on the restaurant operator’s stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price would suggest a potential upside of 10.83% from the company’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Brinker’s aggressive expansion strategies and sales building initiatives like streamlining of menu and innovation value offerings along with its loyalty program should boost comps. Increased focus on company-owned restaurants, which allows it to have full control over operations, is also expected to boost the bottom as well as the top line. However, the company’s revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in eight of the trailing ten quarters, mainly due to traffic decline at its restaurants. Further, higher labor as well as costs related to various initiatives might continue to hurt margins, while overall choppiness in the restaurant space might keep on pressurizing comps in the coming quarters. Nevertheless, various operational, remodeling and digital initiatives are likely to aid the stock in driving growth, going ahead. Meanwhile, estimates have been stable ahead of the company's fiscal first-quarter 2018 earnings release.”

EAT has been the topic of several other reports. Piper Jaffray Companies reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Brinker International in a research note on Friday, August 11th. Barclays PLC cut their target price on shares of Brinker International from $47.00 to $44.00 and set an “equal weight” rating on the stock in a research note on Wednesday, July 19th. BidaskClub lowered shares of Brinker International from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a research note on Friday, July 28th. Maxim Group cut their target price on shares of Brinker International from $54.00 to $49.00 and set a “buy” rating on the stock in a research note on Thursday, August 3rd. Finally, ValuEngine raised shares of Brinker International from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Thursday, July 27th. Two equities research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, thirteen have issued a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Brinker International presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $41.46.

Brinker International (NYSE:EAT) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, August 10th. The restaurant operator reported $1.09 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.04 by $0.05. The business had revenue of $810.66 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $809.94 million. Brinker International had a net margin of 4.79% and a negative return on equity of 31.46%. Brinker International’s revenue was down 8.1% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $1.24 earnings per share.

Brinker International declared that its board has approved a stock repurchase program on Thursday, August 10th that allows the company to buyback $250.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the restaurant operator to purchase up to 14.6% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

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In other Brinker International news, Director Michael A. George purchased 16,450 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, September 6th. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $30.31 per share, with a total value of $498,599.50. Following the completion of the purchase, the director now owns 49,952 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $1,514,045.12. The purchase was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Company insiders own 1.91% of the company’s stock.

Hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the business. Bruderman Asset Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Brinker International by 82.5% during the second quarter. Bruderman Asset Management LLC now owns 2,551 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $116,000 after acquiring an additional 1,153 shares in the last quarter. Acrospire Investment Management LLC purchased a new position in shares of Brinker International during the first quarter worth approximately $129,000. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. raised its stake in shares of Brinker International by 4.8% during the first quarter. Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services Inc. now owns 3,032 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $139,000 after acquiring an additional 140 shares in the last quarter. Bessemer Group Inc. purchased a new position in shares of Brinker International during the fourth quarter worth approximately $168,000. Finally, LS Investment Advisors LLC raised its stake in shares of Brinker International by 59.4% during the second quarter. LS Investment Advisors LLC now owns 3,402 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $155,000 after acquiring an additional 1,268 shares in 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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Analyst Recommendations for Brinker International (NYSE:EAT)

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