Darden Restaurants Wins Big in Q4 With Strong Comps

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When Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) reported its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Tuesday, the company said that it had $1.18 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.93 billion in revenue. Consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters had called for $0.15 in EPS and revenue of $1.87 billion. In the same period of last year, the company posted EPS of $1.10 and $1.79 billion in revenue.

Total sales from continuing operations increased 8.1%, while same-restaurant sales increased 3.3% for the quarter, excluding Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. In terms of the actual comparable sales breakdown, Darden reported:

  • Olive Garden, +4.4%
  • LongHorn Steakhouse, +3.5%
  • Capital Grille, +0.5%
  • Eddie V’s, +3.3%
  • Yard House, +0.1%
  • Seasons 52, -1.3%
  • Bahama Breeze, +1.4%

In terms of the outlook for the 2018 fiscal year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $4.38 to $4.50 and total sales growth of 11.5% to 13.0%, with same-restaurant sales growth of 1.0% to 2.0%. Consensus estimates are $4.43 in EPS and $8.01 billion in revenue for the year.

During this quarter, the company repurchased about 0.2 million shares of its common stock for a total of $15 million. This leaves about $470 million remaining under the current $500 million repurchase authorization.

On the books, Darden cash and cash equivalents totaled $233.1 million at the end of the quarter, down from $274.8 billion in the same period from last year.

Gene Lee, CEO of Darden, commented:

Our strong fourth quarter results wrapped up a solid year of performance. We continue to improve execution in our restaurants by relentlessly focusing on food, service and atmosphere. Our strategy is helping to build guest loyalty, drive improved financial results and grow shareholder value.

Shares of Darden were last seen up nearly 4% at $93.48 on Tuesday, with a consensus analyst price target of $88.09 and a 52-week range of $59.50 to $95.22.