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

Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

Darden Restaurants ( DRI) pushed the Services sector higher today making it today's featured services winner. The sector as a whole closed the day down 0.3%. By the end of trading, Darden Restaurants rose $0.48 (1.1%) to $46.26 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 3,630,631 shares of Darden Restaurants exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1,357,600 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $44.78-$46.31 after having opened the day at $45.81 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $45.78. Other companies within the Services sector that increased today were: Newlead Holdings ( NEWL), up 15.6%, Pointer Telocation ( PNTR), up 14.0%, Dover Saddlery ( DOVR), up 11.3% and Chefs Warehouse Holdings ( CHEF), up 8.8%.

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 $6.4 billion and is part of the leisure industry. Shares are up 9.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there are 7 analysts that rate Darden Restaurants a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 15 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, reasonable valuation levels and good cash flow from operations. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat weak growth in earnings per share.

On the negative front, General Employment ( JOB), down 27.4%, WidePoint Corporation ( WYY), down 14.7%, Pandora Media ( P), down 10.1% and DLH Holdings ( DLHC), down 9.5% , were all laggards within the services sector with Directv ( DTV) being today's services sector laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the services sector could consider iShares Dow Jones US Cons Services ( IYC) while those bearish on the services sector could consider ProShares Ultra Short Consumer Sers ( SCC).

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