What to Expect When Darden Reports Thursday

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) is scheduled to release fiscal first-quarter financial results before markets open Thursday. The consensus estimates are calling for $1.36 in earnings per share (EPS) and $2.14 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $1.34 in EPS and $2.06 billion in revenue.

Regardless of interest rate decisions and trade wars, people have to eat, and this company has consistently delivered the goods. Darden Restaurants is a casual-dining restaurant portfolio company. Its approximately 1,700 restaurants are 100% company-owned and include two large brands: 850 Olive Garden restaurants and 500 LongHorn Steakhouse units.

The company’s smaller brands include Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V’s and Yard House.

Darden’s ability to protect margins while driving a strong top line is a sharp contrast to casual dining peers that often struggle to get flow-through in a tough cost backdrop. The analysts tend to think Darden is well-positioned for an industry shift toward scale, which they think shows up in its capabilities around data analytics and customer insights.

Excluding Wednesday’s move, Darden has outperformed the broad markets with the stock up about 26% year to date. In the past 52 weeks, the stock is up closer to 6%.

A few analysts weighed in on Darden ahead of the results:

  • Maxim Group has a Hold rating with a $126 price target.
  • Wells Fargo has a Market Perform rating with a $117 price target.
  • Wedbush has a Hold rating with a $125 price target.
  • MKM Partners has a Neutral rating with a $120 price target.
  • KeyCorp has an Overweight rating with a $140 price target.
  • Citigroup has a Buy rating with a $144 price target.

Shares of Darden were last seen up about 0.5% at $126.70, with a 52-week range of $95.83 to $128.41. The consensus analyst price target is $127.32.