Why Darden Restaurants (DRI) Stock Is Surging In After-Hours Trading

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) are up 4.52% to $46.95 in after-hours trading after the company announced that its board expects to nominate nine of its independent directors as the board's slate of nominees for election at the annual meeting of shareholders to be held on September 30.

The Darden board will continue to be comprised of 12 members until a new CEO is appointed in accordance with the leadership succession plan separately announced today.

By nominating a slate of nine directors for the 12 available seats at the Annual Meeting, Darden has ensured that at least three of the nominees proposed by activist investor Starboard Value L.P. and its affiliates would be elected at the annual meeting.

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The company also announced that it has engaged in settlement discussions with Starboard with respect to Starboard's pending proxy contest but has been unable to reach an agreement.

TheStreet Ratings team rates DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC (DRI) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and reasonable valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 6.5%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 3.6%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC's earnings per share declined by 39.0% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC reported lower earnings of $1.38 versus $1.80 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.25 versus $1.38).
  • The debt-to-equity ratio of 1.28 is relatively high when compared with the industry average, suggesting a need for better debt level management. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.11, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. When compared to other companies in the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry and the overall market, DARDEN RESTAURANTS INC's return on equity is below that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: DRI Ratings Report

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