Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) was the target of a large increase in short interest in August. As of August 15th, there was short interest totalling 10,251,662 shares, an increase of 41.3% from the July 31st total of 7,253,141 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 1,691,722 shares, the days-to-cover ratio is presently 6.1 days. Currently, 8.2% of the company’s stock are short sold.

A number of equities analysts have weighed in on the company. Jefferies Group LLC upped their price target on Darden Restaurants from $80.00 to $90.00 and gave the stock a “hold” rating in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. J P Morgan Chase & Co reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and set a $93.00 price target (up previously from $82.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Maxim Group reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $90.00 price target on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Wednesday, June 21st. Royal Bank Of Canada upped their price target on Darden Restaurants from $86.00 to $96.00 and gave the stock a “sector perform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Finally, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (The) reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and set a $87.00 price target (up previously from $81.00) on shares of Darden Restaurants in a research report on Wednesday, June 28th. Two analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, nineteen have assigned a hold rating and five have given a buy rating to the company. Darden Restaurants presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $85.18.

Darden Restaurants (DRI) opened at 82.64 on Wednesday. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $85.54 and its 200 day moving average price is $83.95. Darden Restaurants has a 52-week low of $60.16 and a 52-week high of $95.22. The company has a market cap of $10.36 billion, a PE ratio of 21.73 and a beta of 0.27.

Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) last issued its earnings results on Tuesday, June 27th. The restaurant operator reported $1.18 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $1.15 by $0.03. Darden Restaurants had a return on equity of 26.18% and a net margin of 6.68%. The firm had revenue of $1.94 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.86 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $1.10 earnings per share. The business’s revenue was up 8.1% compared to the same quarter last year. On average, equities analysts predict that Darden Restaurants will post $4.47 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The company also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Tuesday, August 1st. Stockholders of record on Monday, July 10th were issued a $0.63 dividend. This represents a $2.52 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 3.05%. This is a boost from Darden Restaurants’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.56. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, July 6th. Darden Restaurants’s payout ratio is 66.14%.

In related news, insider Eugene I. Lee, Jr. sold 93,125 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, June 29th. The stock was sold at an average price of $91.58, for a total transaction of $8,528,387.50. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now directly owns 165,062 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $15,116,377.96. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. 0.63% of the stock is currently owned by corporate insiders.

Several large investors have recently modified their holdings of the company. BlackRock Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 4,601.4% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 11,464,253 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $959,215,000 after buying an additional 11,220,403 shares during the period. Janus Henderson Group PLC boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 3,640.4% in the second quarter. Janus Henderson Group PLC now owns 737,685 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $66,717,000 after buying an additional 717,963 shares during the period. American Century Companies Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 42.3% in the first quarter. American Century Companies Inc. now owns 2,076,378 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $173,731,000 after buying an additional 617,269 shares during the period. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 66.8% in the second quarter. Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. now owns 1,275,399 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $115,348,000 after buying an additional 510,969 shares during the period. Finally, Vanguard Group Inc. boosted its stake in shares of Darden Restaurants by 3.6% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 14,211,162 shares of the restaurant operator’s stock valued at $1,189,048,000 after buying an additional 487,366 shares during the period. 88.70% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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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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