Darden Restaurants Announces Projected Q3 EPS $1.23-1.25 vs $1.19 Est
Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today reported that it expects diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations for its fiscal third quarter ending February 26, 2012, to be approximately $1.23 to $1.25. The Company also estimates that, compared to the prior year, blended U.S. same-restaurant sales for Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse for the third quarter will increase approximately +4% and blended U.S. same-restaurant sales for the Company's Specialty Restaurant Group for the third quarter will increase approximately +6%. Among the Company's large brands, U.S. same-restaurant sales for the third quarter are estimated to be up approximately +7% at LongHorn Steakhouse, +6% at Red Lobster and +2% at Olive Garden.
The Company reported that estimated same-restaurant sales results for its fiscal third quarter benefited from a shift in the Lenten season, which started during the fiscal third quarter this year but during the fiscal fourth quarter last year, and from less severe winter weather quarter-to-date this year than last year. Estimated blended same-restaurant sales growth for Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse for the third quarter is approximately 70 basis points higher due to the Lenten season shift and approximately 200 basis points higher due to the less severe weather. More specifically, estimated third quarter same-restaurant sales growth at Red Lobster, whose signature national LobsterFest™ feature is tied to the Lenten season, is approximately 190 basis points higher due to the shift in the season. The Company expects to release its fiscal 2012 third quarter earnings on Friday, March 23, 2012, at 7:00 am ET.
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