Is It Time to Carb Load Your Portfolio?


Carbohydrates might not be good for your waist-line but they’ve worked wonders for Darden Restaurants (DRI).

The parent of Olive Garden, has risen sharply in 2018 after its quarterly results beat estimates for three straight quarters. Last time around, earnings grew 18 percent, and if the company manages to post earnings in-line with the consensus for its most recent quarter it would translate into a 23 percent jump from the same period last year.

Investors will find out on Thursday morning. The consensus calls for per-share earnings of $1.22, up from $0.99 in the same quarter last year.

But it wasn’t always a smooth ride. Back in 2014, DRI faced upheaval after selling its Red Lobster division without putting the matter to a shareholder vote. The transaction stirred up ire because it generated meager proceeds and was viewed as a stratagem to block the power of activist investors. Shortly after that, shareholders led by hedge fund operator Starboard Value expelled the entire board of directors.

DRI, which also runs The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Longhorn Steakhouse, has been on a roll ever since. Employee comments plucked from the company site’s “Darden Digest” seem to forget the 2014 showdown too, by extolling the “the positive atmosphere” and the “friendly, supportive team” who serve as “a secret recipe that helps us deliver outstanding food, service and atmosphere to our guests and communities.” According to Darden Digest, “Our people are our main ingredient.”

Need more carb-loading? Next year think about lining up online to for one of the now sold-out, “Never Ending Pasta Bowl Passes.” For only $300 the lucky holders get a gastronomical speed pass to 391 different pasta dishes at Olive Garden for a full year.
Or you can just order from the menu at more than 2,000 other Darden Restaurants.

DRI’s already appreciated 23.2% on the year. Let’s keep an eye on its numbers later this week.

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