Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse parent Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) announced its third-quarter 2019 earnings results before the opening bell on Thursday, Mar. 21.
Total sales spiked 5.5% to $2.25 billion for the three-month period, due to 39 net new restaurants and a blended same-restaurant sales rise of 2.8%.
Net earnings from continuing operations in the quarter rose 3.4% to $1.80 per diluted share, or $225.1 million. Total net earnings were $223.6 million, or $1.79 per diluted share.
According to Zacks Research, analysts expected quarterly earnings of $1.75 per share on revenues of about $2.24 billion.
NEW OUTLOOK FOR 2019, NEW DIVIDEND
In addition to the earnings results, Darden Restaurants board declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.75 per share on the outstanding common stock.
The cash dividend is payable on May 1, 2019 to shareholders on record at the close of business on April 10, 2019.
Total sales growth for fiscal 2019 is now expected to be about 5.5%, with same-restaurant sales growth at an estimated 2.5-2.7%. Darden is looking at an effective tax rate of approx. 10%, without earnings from continuing operations expected to be between $5.76 and $5.80 per diluted share.