Olive Garden's Sales Strength Helps Parent Darden Restaurants Meet Profit Expectations

By Tomi Kilgore Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Darden Restaurants Inc. , the parent of Olive Garden restaurants, reported fiscal second-quarter earnings that rose to $79.5 million, or 64 cents a share, from $43.2 million, or 33 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. The FactSet earnings-per-share consensus was 64 cents. Revenue for the quarter to Nov. 27 rose to $1.64 billion from $1.61 billion, just shy of the FactSet consensus of $1.65 billion, but Olive Garden sales grew 2.5% to $915.0 million to beat expectations of $910.8 million. Same-store sales grew 1.7%, beating the FactSet consensus of 1.5%, as Olive Garden sales growth of 2.6% beat expectations of 1.9%. The company affirmed its full-year adjusted EPS outlook of $3.87 to $3.97. "We had another strong quarter with same-restaurant sales growth significantly outperforming the casual dining industry benchmarks, especially at Olive Garden," said Chief Executive Gene Lee. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has soared 19% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 11%.

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