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Safe Money Report Sees Dollars in Dining

07/29/2019 5:00 am EST


Mike Larson

Editor, Weiss' Safe Money Report

Companies that focus on affordable dining have an upper hand over those that target the high end of the market, explains growth stock expert Mike Larson, editor of Safe Money Report.

That’s one reason Restaurant Brands (QSR) is already showing gains in our portfolio. QSR is likely to see improved sales at its Burger King chain due to its expanded rollout of Impossible Foods’ meatless burgers.

After successfully testing the concept in St. Louis earlier this year, it said it would be offering them in every restaurant nationwide by year’s end.

We are also recommending a position in Darden Restaurants (DRI), an operator of more than 1,700 casual dining restaurants under the Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen brands, among others.

Zeroing in on the most recent quarter, Darden reported a 19% rise in earnings. Profit came in at $208 million, or $1.67 per share, compared with $174.5 million, or $1.41 per share, in the year-earlier period. Sales climbed almost 5% to $2.23 billion. Those results slightly missed analyst targets.

But after initially falling, the stock reversed course to the upside amid optimism for future growth in its delivered food business as well as expectations of improving margins. In fact, it’s very close to breaking out to an all-time high just above $125. T

he company also was reportedly in the running to acquire Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group. While that chain ultimately agreed to a $267.3 million private equity buyout, the chatter has investors focusing on other potential deals. Darden has a lot of possible targets, any of which could boost revenue and earnings nicely down the road.

Moreover, Darden just boosted its quarterly dividend by 17% to 88 cents per share. The company now sports an indicated yield of around 2.8%. That’s a full percentage point more than the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY). Our Weiss Ratings model also just upgraded DRI to “A-” and has consistently placed it in BUY territory since March 2016.

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