(By Balachander) Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE:DRI
) posted a 4 percent rise in quarterly earnings amid a 0.3 percent drop in same-restaurant sales at its three casual dining brands.
Orlando, Florida-based Darden, which declared a quarterly dividend of 50 cents, said earnings from continuing operations were $111.0 million or $0.85 per share for the first quarter, up from $106.8 million or $0.78 per share in the corresponding period of last year and topped market expectations by a penny.
Sales rose 4.8 percent to $2.03 billion, in line with consensus estimates.
U.S. same-restaurant sales fell 2.6 percent at Red Lobster, while increasing 0.3 percent at its Olive Garden restaurant and 3.6 percent at LongHorn Steakhouse, the company said.
Looking ahead for fiscal 2013, Darden still forecasts same-restaurant sales growth for its three casual dining brands of between 1 percent and 2 percent. It expects earnings per share growth between 5 percent and 9 percent, on sales growth between 9 percent and 10 percent.
The stock, which has been trading in the 52-week range between $40.69 and $55.84, ended Thursday's regular trading at $54.72.