Chili's Parent Brinker's Stock Tumbles To 4-year Low After Analyst Downgrade

By Tomi Kilgore Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Shares of Brinker International Inc. plunged 9.7% to a four-year low Thursday, after the parent of casual dining chains Chili's Grill and Bar and Maggiano's Little Italy was downgraded at J.P. Morgan, which cited concerns that the company has exhausted its ability to financially engineer further shareholder returns. Analyst John Ivankoe cut his rating to neutral, after being at overweight since July 2014. He trimmed his stock price target to $44, which is 19% above current levels, from $48. Ivankoe said Brinker was the last casual dining company he was bullish on, but he said there was still "no end in sight" for the cyclical and secular challenges the industry faces. The challenges include fears of excess supply, market share loss to fast-casual options, relatively low following among 18-to-34 age group, higher pricing relative to grocer pricing, wage inflation and declining retail traffic. The stock, which closed at the lowest level since March 25, 2013, has tumbled 25.3% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 8.7%.

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