Stocks to watch: Darden, Monster Beverage

The restaurant chain reports quarterly results, and the beverage company is being added to the S&P 500.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 22, 2012 8:53AM
By Michael Baron, TheStreet.com

Shares of Darden Restaurants (DRI) fell in pre-market action after the Orlando-based company posted in-line earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter but came in slightly short on the top line. The company, which also announced a 16% increase in its quarterly dividend, attributed the sales shortfall to "same-restaurant sales declines at both Olive Garden and Red Lobster that reflected less effective than anticipated nationally advertised promotions."


Darden also said it expects the business environment in fiscal 2013 to be "very similar" to what it experienced in fiscal 2012. The stock was last quoted at $48.86, down 3%, on volume of less than 30,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Darden forecast blended same-restaurant sales growth of 1%-to-2% for fiscal 2013 from its Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse concepts, a projection that it said is "just below" its long-term target.


Arch Coal (ACI) said after Thursday's closing bell that it's laying off 750 employees, or roughly 10% of its workforce. The company said it plans to "odle several operations and to reduce production at other mining complexes in Appalachia due to the unprecedented downturn in demand for coal-based electricity."


The stock closed Thursday at $6.20, down 3.1%. Year-to-date, the shares have lost more than 50% of their value, scraping a 52-week low of $5.62 on June 14.


Medtronic (MDT) said its board has approved a 7.2% increase in its regular quarterly cash dividend to 26 cents a share. The medical device company said the dividend is payable on July 27 to shareholders of record on July 6. Based on Thursday's close at $37.80, the higher payout brings the forward annual dividend yield on the stock to 2.75%. Year-to-date, the shares are down 1.2%.


Monster Beverage (MNST) is being added to the S&P 500, replacing Sara Lee (SLE). Standard & Poor's expects the change to take place after the closing bell on June 28. The change was prompted by Sara Lee's decision to spin off its international coffee & tea business to shareholders.


Ryder Systems (R) lowered its fiscal second-quarter outlook, citing weakness in its fleet management solutions business. The company now sees comparable earnings of 90 to 95 cents a share for the three months ended in June, down from a previous expectation for a profit of $1.07 to $1.12 a share.


The current average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for earnings of $1.03 a share in the quarter. For the full year, Ryder now sees earnings of $3.65 to $3.85 a share, down from a prior view of $4.02 to $4.12 a share.


The big banks will also be watched closely in the first session following a massive downgrade of many of the top names in the industry by Moody's. Citigroup (C), Bank of America (BAC) and Morgan Stanley (MS) were among the banks who saw their credit ratings slashed as expected.

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