Darden Restaurants Inc (DRI): Today's Featured Leisure Winner

Darden Restaurants ( DRI) pushed the Leisure industry higher today making it today's featured leisure winner. The industry as a whole closed the day down 0.9%. By the end of trading, Darden Restaurants rose 36 cents (0.7%) to $53.47 on light volume. Throughout the day, 1.1 million shares of Darden Restaurants exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of two million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $52.46-$53.54 after having opened the day at $52.63 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $53.11. Other companies within the Leisure industry that increased today were: Caribou Coffee Company ( CBOU), up 5.3%, Pizza Inn Holdings ( PZZI), up 4.8%, Full House Resorts ( FLL), up 4.5%, and Asia Entertainment & Resources ( AERL), up 4.3%.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. owns and operates full service restaurants in the United States and Canada. It operates restaurants under the Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V's Prime Seafood, and Wildfish Seafood Grille brand names. Darden Restaurants has a market cap of $6.82 billion and is part of the services sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.8, equal to the average leisure industry P/E ratio and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 16.5% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 15 analysts that rate Darden Restaurants a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and 10 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Darden Restaurants as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels, increase in stock price during the past year and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally poor debt management on most measures that we evaluated.

On the negative front, Orbitz Worldwide ( OWW), down 25.5%, Priceline.com ( PCLN), down 17.3%, Fiesta Restaurant Group ( FRGI), down 6.4%, and Arcos Dorados Holdings ( ARCO), down 6.1%, were all laggards within the leisure industry with Yum Brands ( YUM) being today's leisure industry laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the leisure industry could consider PowerShares Dynamic Leisure&Entert ( PEJ) while those bearish on the leisure industry could consider ProShares Ultra Sht Consumer Services ( SCC).

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