from the desk of Dr. Terry F Allen

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Darden Restaurants (DRI) Earnings Keep Rally Going

On Thursday, DRI – whose brands include Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille – reported earnings that blew out expectations on both revenue and profits. The company also announced that its dividend would more than double along with a $500 million share repurchase program. The news was warmly greeted by the Street, which showered the dine-in chain conglomerate with a slew of target price increases that ranged as high as $165 (the stock closed Friday at $149). The shares gained more than 11% in the two days following the earnings news, hitting yet another all-time high on Friday.

To say DRI is in rally mode would be a gross understatement. Since bottoming last April, the stock has rocketed 245% higher. Already this year, DRI has gained 25%. The rally has proceeded largely along DRI’s 20-day moving average, with the 50-day moving average lending support on pullbacks. With strong fundamentals in place and a recent uptick in same-store sales, there’s ample reason to believe the rally should continue as customers return to DRI’s varied dining rooms.

DRI Chart March 2021 - Earnings Beat Expectations

DRI Chart March 2021

If you agree that DRI’s rally has legs, consider the following trade that relies on the stock remaining above $145 through expiration in eight weeks.

Buy to Open DRI 21May21 140 Put (DRI210521P140)
Sell to Open DRI 21May21 145 Put (DRI210521P145) for a credit of $1.90 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.05 less than the mid-point of the option spread when DRI was trading just below $149. Unless the stock rallies quickly from here, you should be able to get close to this amount.

Your commission on this trade will be only $1.30 per spread.  Each spread would then yield $188.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $500 and makes your investment $311.30 ($500 – $188.70).  If DRI closes above $145 on May 21, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 61% ($188.70 / $311.30).

As with all investments, you should only make option trades with money that you can truly afford to lose.

Happy trading,

Terry

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