Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) is the parent company of 1,855 restaurants under familiar names like Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse.
Bill Darden started the company in 1938 with a small restaurant in Georgia, and over time gobbled up each of the brands, bringing the total number of employees within the company to 180,000. Darden has been in the news recently for a surge in fourth-quarter earnings and a 16% increase in its quarterly dividend. The company currently is working on a turnaround across some of its chains, announcing some changes in its Red Lobster and Olive Garden menus earlier this week.
With revenues of $8 billion and $476 million in earnings, Darden is the giant in the sit-down industry. Indeed, DRI’s $761 million in cash flow dwarfs the competition, and 25% return on equity is top-notch. Throw in a nearly 4% dividend yield and a history of payout boosts, and Darden is perhaps the best investment of the group.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.