Darden Restaurants Unveils 2020 Guidance

Darden Restaurants (DRI) unveiled full-year 2020 guidance on Thursday as it posted results for its fiscal fourth quarter which saw adjusted earnings and revenue advance year-on-year, helped by rising sales at the Olive Garden.

The Orlando, Fl.-based restaurant chain generated revenue of $2.23 billion in the three months ended May 26, up from $2.13 billion in the corresponding quarter of the prior year but below the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Capital IQ for $2.24 billion.

Broken down by restaurant chain, the company’s Olive Garden eatery was the single largest contributor to quarterly revenue, worth $1.11 billion, up from $1.07 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.

Adjusted earnings per share rose to $1.76 from $1.39, which surpassed the Street’s forecast for $1.73.

During the quarter, the company repurchased approximately 0.4 million shares of its common stock for approximately $42 million. For fiscal 2019, it repurchased approximately 1.9 million shares for around $208 million. As of the end of fiscal 2019, Darden Restaurants had approximately $304 million remaining under its $500 million repurchase authorization.

“I’m pleased with the results we achieved during the fourth quarter, which wrapped up another strong year of sales and profit growth for Darden,” Gene Lee, chief executive of Darden Restaurants, said. “Our results for the full year further strengthened our competitive position as we continued to grow market share and delivered competitively superior returns.”

For the fiscal 2020 year, the company said that it is targeting earnings per share in the range of $6.30 to $6.45, which was below analysts’ estimates for $6.46. Sales growth in the year is expected to be between 5.3% and 6.3%.

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