Darden Profit Rises as Olive Garden Sales Improve

Olive Garden sales rose 3.4 percent at established locations during the fourth quarter, lifted by higher prices.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Olive Garden sales rose 3.4 percent at established locations during the fourth quarter, lifted by higher prices.

Parent company Darden Restaurants Inc., based in Orlando, Florida, has been trying to revive sales at its struggling Italian chain with new menu items, promotions and marketing. Last year, Darden came under pressure from investor Starboard Value, which released a nearly 300-page presentation detailing ways to improve the company. Soon after, Starboard won its push to take over Darden's board.

Darden, which also owns chains including Longhorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille, also said Tuesday it would spin off some of its real estate holdings.

For the period ending May 31, Darden earned $105.3 million, or 82 cents per share, including a loss of 10 cents per share from discontinued operations. Not including one-time items, earnings were $1.08 per share. That was better than the 93 cents per share analysts expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Total revenue for the quarter was $1.88 billion, which also beat the $1.87 billion Wall Street projections.

Shares of Darden rose 7 percent to $74 in premarket trading.

For the year, the company reported profit of $709.5 million, or $5.47 per share. Revenue was $6.76 billion.

Darden Restaurants expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.05 to $3.20 per share.

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