Darden Beats Profit Expectations, With Help From Olive Garden

By Tomi KilgoreMarketWatch Pulse

Darden Restaurants Inc. reported Tuesday fiscal third-quarter earnings that fell to $105.8 million, or 82 cents a share, from $133.8 million, or $1.05 a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to $1.21, beating the FactSet consensus of $1.19. Revenue rose to $1.85 billion from $1.73 billion, matching the FactSet consensus of $1.85 billion, as better-than-expected sales at Olive Garden and fine dining restaurants offset a slight miss at LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants. Overall same-restaurant sales grew 6.2%, above expectations of a 5.9% rise. The company now expects full fiscal year EPS of $3.48 to $3.52, compared with the FactSet consensus of $3.48. The stock, which was still inactive in premarket trade, has climbed 5.8% year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 1.1%.

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