Darden 2Q net earnings, sales up

by Bryan Salvage
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ORLANDO – Darden Restaurants, Inc. reported for the fiscal second quarter ended Nov. 28, net earnings from continuing operations for the second quarter were $75.8 million, or 54 cents per diluted share on sales of $1.73 billion compared to net earnings during the same period last year of $61.2 million, or 43 cents per diluted share, on sales of $1.64 billion.

Second quarter sales from continuing operations were $1.73 billion, compared to $1.64 billion in the prior year, a 5.2% increase. Same-restaurant sales for the quarter were up 2.0% at Olive Garden and 6.8% at LongHorn Steakhouse and down 1.6% at Red Lobster, representing a 1.4% increase on a combined basis. This compares to an estimated 1.0% increase for the quarter in the Knapp-Track benchmark for US same-restaurant sales, excluding Darden.

"Our results this quarter are a clear demonstration of Darden's earnings growth capability," said Clarence Otis, chairman and CEO. "The keys to our performance are strong brands, an effective and efficient support platform and well prepared and committed teams. During the economic downturn, we continued to invest in strengthening each of these success drivers and in consistent expansion of our brands through new restaurant growth. Darden successfully navigated an extended period of declining same-restaurant sales across the industry, delivering sustained earnings growth and steady growth in market share. As the economy recovers and same-restaurant sales turn positive, we believe we are well positioned to generate meaningfully higher earnings growth while growing sales at a level that continues to build market share. This quarter provides compelling evidence of that positioning."
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