Why Darden Is Thursday’s Big Earnings Winner

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Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) released its fiscal fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Thursday. The company said that it had $1.39 in earnings per share (EPS) and $2.13 in revenue, versus consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $1.35 in EPS on revenue of $2.13 billion. The same period of last year reportedly had EPS of $1.18 and $1.93 billion in revenue.

For the quarter, blended same-restaurant sales from Darden’s legacy brands increased 2.2%. This consisted of same-store sales increases of:

  • Olive Garden, 2.4%
  • LongHorn Steakhouse, 2.4%
  • Capital Grille, 2.6%
  • Eddie V’s, 3.6%
  • Yard House, 1.4%
  • Seasons 52, 0.4%
  • Bahama Breeze, 0.6%.

In terms of its segments, the company reported its fourth-quarter results as follows:

  • Olive Garden sales grew 4.0% year over year to $1.07 billion, with a net income of $226.3 million.
  • LongHorn Steakhouse sales increased 4.9% to $458.2 million, with a net income of 87.1 million.
  • Fine Dining revenues increased 5.9% to $147.3 million, with a net income of $30.4 million.
  • Other Business revenues increased 38.9% to $460.7 million, with a net income of $72.5 million.

Looking ahead to the 2019 fiscal full year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $5.40 to $5.56 and total sales growth of 4.0% to 5.0%, with same-restaurant sales growth of 1.0% to 2.0%. The consensus estimates call for $4.78 in EPS and $8.07 billion in revenue for the year.

CEO Gene Lee commented:

Our solid fourth quarter results concluded another strong year of performance as we executed our back-to-basics operating philosophy and strengthened our competitive advantages. Our strategy remains unchanged, and our operators’ consistent focus on being brilliant with the basics has allowed us to continue building guest loyalty while taking market share.

Shares of Darden were last seen up about 11% at $103.74, with a consensus analyst price target of $101.19 and a 52-week range of $76.27 to $104.74.

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