Darden Restaurants Inc. reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that rose to $139.6 million, or $1.09 a share, from $105.3 million, or 82 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding discontinued operations, earnings per share came to $1.10. The FactSet EPS consensus was $1.09. Sales fell to $1.79 billion from $1.88 billion, below the FactSet consensus of $1.82 billion. The restaurant chain operator said the previous year's sales included an extra week. Same-store sales increased 1.7%, missing the FactSet consensus for a 2.7% rise, with less-than-expected growth at Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille restaurants offset better-than-expected growth at Bahama Breeze. For fiscal 2017, Darden expects EPS of $3.80 to $3.90 and same-store sales growth of 1% to 2%, compared with the FactSet consensus for EPS of $3.99 and for same-store sales growth of 2.4%. Separately, Darden said it increased its quarterly dividend by 12% to 56 cents a share, payable Aug. 1 to shareholders of record on July 11. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has gained 3.7% year to date, while the S&P 500 has tacked on 1.3%.
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