Categories Earnings, Retail

Earnings Preview: Will Darden’s Q1 à la carte please investors?

Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) is just two days shy of releasing its first-quarter results before the market opens. Analysts expect the Olive Garden-parent to post upbeat earnings and revenue for the quarter.

On an average, analysts predict earnings of $1.23 per share for the first quarter of 2019 compared to the previous year’s reported profit of $0.99 per share. Topline is anticipated to rise 4.80% to $2.03 billion, helped by improved menu-mix and pricing. Most analysts have maintained a “hold” rating on the stock with an average price target of $115.40.

The company is expected to revise its full-year forecast as the same-store sales could be hurt by Hurricane Florence. The company has contributed $500,000 to the Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program, which is likely to be recorded in the books in this quarter. Previously, when Hurricane Harvey lashed across Texas last year, it dragged the company’s same-store sales down 15% in the state.

Meanwhile, Darden is predicted to show an increase in footfall, due to the consumer shift from fast-food chains to restaurants. Delivery services also remain a key strategy to strive in the restaurant industry.

For the recent fourth-quarter results, Darden posted a 41% jump in earnings on higher sales and a rise in same-restaurant sales from its legacy brands. Helped by a 10% sales growth, Darden was able to manage the 8% rise in operating costs and expenses to a large extent.

For the fiscal year 2019, the company had expected sales growth of 4% to 5% and EPS from continuing operations of $5.40 to $5.56. Same-restaurant sales have been predicted in the 1% to 2% growth range and the company is likely to open 45 to 50 restaurants during the full year.

Shares of Darden ended Monday’s regular session down 0.90% at $117.98 on the NYSE. The stock has risen by about 23% for the year so far and about 41% for the past year.

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