Investors Purchase Large Volume of Call Options on Darden Restaurants (DRI)

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was the target of unusually large options trading on Monday. Stock traders acquired 3,187 call options on the company. This is an increase of 709% compared to the typical daily volume of 394 call options.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) traded up $0.89 during trading hours on Wednesday, hitting $95.61. 1,276,909 shares of the stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,440,284. Darden Restaurants has a 52 week low of $73.81 and a 52 week high of $100.11. The company has a quick ratio of 0.20, a current ratio of 0.34 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.47. The company has a market capitalization of $11,800.00, a PE ratio of 24.08, a P/E/G ratio of 1.82 and a beta of 0.16.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last posted its earnings results on Tuesday, December 19th. The restaurant operator reported $0.73 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.70 by $0.03. Darden Restaurants had a net margin of 6.46% and a return on equity of 26.24%. The company had revenue of $1.88 billion during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.85 billion. analysts anticipate that Darden Restaurants will post 4.76 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, February 1st. Investors of record on Wednesday, January 10th were given a $0.63 dividend. This represents a $2.52 annualized dividend and a yield of 2.64%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, January 9th. Darden Restaurants’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 63.48%.

DRI has been the subject of a number of analyst reports. Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Darden Restaurants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and set a $98.00 price target for the company in a research note on Thursday, December 14th. Maxim Group restated a “buy” rating and set a $103.00 price target (up previously from $93.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research note on Wednesday, December 20th. Argus upgraded shares of Darden Restaurants from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating and raised their price target for the stock from $95.67 to $108.00 in a research note on Thursday, December 21st. Jefferies Group raised their price target on shares of Darden Restaurants from $82.00 to $90.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Wednesday, December 20th. Finally, BMO Capital Markets set a $101.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research note on Tuesday, December 19th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, sixteen have issued a hold rating and ten have given a buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $96.95.

In related news, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 59,783 shares of Darden Restaurants stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, January 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $96.80, for a total transaction of $5,786,994.40. Following the sale, the insider now directly owns 164,396 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $15,913,532.80. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, SVP Douglas J. Milanes sold 4,300 shares of Darden Restaurants stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, January 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $97.05, for a total value of $417,315.00. Following the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 7,513 shares in the company, valued at $729,136.65. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last three months, insiders have sold 74,866 shares of company stock worth $7,252,094. 0.63% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of DRI. HS Management Partners LLC bought a new position in Darden Restaurants in the 3rd quarter worth approximately $157,044,000. Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 1,963.6% in the 4th quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,067,552 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $198,526,000 after purchasing an additional 1,967,362 shares during the last quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 113.6% in the 3rd quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 1,576,026 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $124,158,000 after purchasing an additional 838,341 shares during the last quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 34.4% in the 3rd quarter. APG Asset Management N.V. now owns 2,361,712 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $186,056,000 after purchasing an additional 604,364 shares during the last quarter. Finally, American Century Companies Inc. raised its position in Darden Restaurants by 29.2% in the 4th quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 1,689,176 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock worth $162,195,000 after purchasing an additional 381,677 shares during the last quarter. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 92.06% of the company’s stock.

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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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