Darden Restaurants Inc. shares ran up 7% in premarket trade Tuesday, after operator of restaurant brands including Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze announced plans to separate a portion of its real estate assets to a new real estate investment trust (REIT). As part of the plan, Darden will transfer about 430 company-owned restaurants to the REIT, which will lease all of its assets back to Darden. The company expects to complete the REIT deal by the end of the year. The REIT will be required to distribute profit allocated to it by the company through a dividend consisting of 20% cash and 80% REIT stock. Going forward, at least 90% of the REIT's taxable profit will be distributed as a dividend. Separately, Darden reported adjusted fiscal fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.08 and revenue of $1.88 billion, beating the FactSet consensus estimates of 93 cents and $1.87 billion, respectively. The stock has climbed 18% year to date through Monday, while the S&P 500 has tacked on 3.1%.
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