The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Darden Restaurants, Wendy's, Yum! Brands, Burger King Worldwide and National Grid

 The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Darden Restaurants, Wendy's, Yum! Brands,
                   Burger King Worldwide and National Grid

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, July 16, 2013

CHICAGO, July 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ announces the list of stocks
featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts
discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.
Stocks recently featured in the blog include Darden Restaurants Inc.
(NYSE:DRI-Free Report), Wendy's Co. (Nasdaq:WEN-Free Report), Yum! Brands Inc.
(NYSE:YUM-Free Report), Burger King Worldwide (NYSE:BKW-Free Report) and
National Grid plc (NYSE:NGG-Free Report).


Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of
the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Darden a Step Ahead in Latin America

Multi-concept, full-service restaurant operator Darden Restaurants Inc.
(NYSE:DRI-Free Report) recently announced that it has inked area development
deals with two renowned Latin American restaurant operators, Grupo Piramide
and Dosil S.A. to establish its presence in six Latin American countries −
Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica and Peru.

While Grupo Piramide will tap the first five regions and develop Darden's
three key brands -- Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse -- in
these countries, Dosil S.A. will concentrate only on Peru. The terms of the
deal were not disclosed.

Both these development partners are sought-after multi-brand restaurant
operators with a presence in South and Central America and the Caribbean.
While Grupo manages the operations of other American brands like Wendy's Co.
(Nasdaq:WEN-Free Report), Yum! Brands Inc.'s (NYSE:YUM-Free Report) KFC and
Pizza Hut, Peru's leading operator Dosil SA has taken charge of restaurant
behemoths like Burger King Worldwide (NYSE:BKW-Free Report) and Brinker
International's Chilli's. Given their familiarity with local food habits and a
strong presence in the same industry, we believe, both the parties remain
strategic fits for Darden's expansion plan.

Darden has been eyeing the Latin American markets for a long time. The latest
deal will expand Darden's presence in 12 markets throughout Latin America. In
late February, this Orlando-based restaurateur signed a deal with
International Meal Company (IMC) to enter four Latin American countries −
Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama.

Prior to this, in Jan 2013, Darden expanded its partnership agreement with
Restaurant Operators to open its Red Lobster brand of restaurants in Puerto
Rico. Notably, last year, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company joined forces with
a Mexican casual dining company, CMR, to enter the Mexican market. These above
mentioned deals affirm management's intent to make Latin America one of the
prime markets for Darden's international expansion. Darden sees tremendous
growth potential in this market where it finds takers for American dining

Further, the region's middle-income population is also increasing, which could
materially benefit the country's food and beverage market. The company seeks
to capitalize on this opportunity. We believe that the company is trying to
expand beyond the U.S. in the midst of cut-throat competition in the rather
saturated domestic casual dining market.

National Grid Down to Strong Sell

Zacks Investment Research downgraded National Grid plc (NYSE:NGG-Free Report)
to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong sell) on Jul 5, 2013.

Why the Downgrade?

Shares of National Grid have dipped roughly 6.3% since the company reported
its fiscal year 2013 (ended Mar 31 2013) results on May 16. Adjusted net
earnings, in local currency, increased roughly 12% year over year on the back
of 4% increase in revenue.

Talking of expenses/income, increase of 3% in operating costs, 4% decline in
financial income and 20% increase in tax expense restricted bottom-line
growth. To add to this peril, long-term borrowings at the end of 2013
represented a year-over-year increase of 20%. Net cash flow generated from
operating activities dipped 11% year over year.

In the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for National Grid has gone
down by 6.1% to $4.00 for fiscal year 2014 and declined 10.3% to $4.26 for
fiscal year 2015. Also, we have an Earnings ESP (Read:

Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method

) of -1.0% and -2.1% for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, respectively.

National Grid is is a well-renowned company engaged in transmission and
distribution of electricity and gas to its residential, commercial, and
industrial customers. The company currently has a $42.3 billion market

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of
the Day pick for free.

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