Darden Restaurants Inc (DRI): Today's Featured Leisure 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 Leisure industry higher today making it today's featured leisure winner. The industry as a whole closed the day down 0.1%. By the end of trading, Darden Restaurants rose $1.26 (2.5%) to $51.06 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1,536,566 shares of Darden Restaurants exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1,677,100 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $49.64-$51.12 after having opened the day at $49.91 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $49.80. Other companies within the Leisure industry that increased today were: Carrols Restaurant Group ( TAST), up 8.9%, Del Frisco's Restaurant Group ( DFRG), up 5.2%, Brinker International ( EAT), up 4.0% and Einstein Noah Restaurant Group ( BAGL), up 4.0%.

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 $6.6 billion and is part of the services sector. Shares are down 8.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday. 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, good cash flow from operations, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat weak growth in earnings per share.

On the negative front, Country Style Cooking Restaurant Chain ( CCSC), down 5.6%, Chuy's Holdings ( CHUY), down 5.4%, Famous Dave's of America ( DAVE), down 5.3% and Qunar Cayman Islands ( QUNR), down 5.0% , were all laggards within the leisure industry with Carnival Corporation ( CCL) 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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