The Morning Brief: Barington Puts Pressure on Darden Restaurants

James Mitarotonda’s Barington Capital Group is turning up the heat on Darden Restaurants. The New York–based hedge fund firm, which owns 2 percent of the company best known for its Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster restaurant chains, made public its case for unlocking the value of the stock. The hedge fund firm thinks if its recommendations were fully implemented, Darden would be worth somewhere between $71 and $80 per share. This is higher than its earlier estimate of $69 to $76. Barrington released its report after Houlihan Lokey, its financial advisor, conducted a review of Darden.

Asia hedge fund professionals are optimistic about their year-end bonuses. A new survey conducted by search firm Heidrick & Struggles International found that 48 percent of employees expect a higher bonus this year, compared with 45 percent last year. In addition, just 11 percent of the respondents are expecting a lower bonus, compared with about 25 percent last year. The results make sense, however. The Eurekahedge Asian Hedge Fund Index is up 15 percent this year, compared with just 7.2 percent for its global index and 9.8 percent for the MSCI Asia-Pacific Index.

Kenneth Griffin’s Citadel disclosed a 6.5 percent passive stake in Trulia, an online real estate company.

Shares of Herbalife rose $0.93, to $75.76, one day after PricewaterhouseCoopers signed off on its financials for the years 2010-2012.

Alan Howard’s BH Macro Ltd. has lost 0.32 percent this month through December 13, lowering its gain for the year to 1.93 percent in dollar terms. It is a closed-ended investment vehicle that invests substantially all of its assets in Brevan Howard’s flagship Brevan Howard Master Fund.

J.C. Penney dropped 3.66 percent to close at $8.18, down nearly 20 percent from its November 29 high.