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Darden Gains on Boost from Fine Dining, Same-Store Sales

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By Dhirendra Tripathi

Investing.com – Darden Restaurants stock (NYSE:DRI) jumped 8.6% Thursday, hitting a 52-week high, as restaurant dining came back big time in the first quarter to propel the company's sales and earnings higher.

Fine dining sales rose about 85% as people tried to put the fear of Covid behind and stepped out to enjoy their time with friends and families.

Sales at LongHorn Steakhouse rose 47% while Olive Garden’s were up 37%

A dividend, an expanded share buyback program of $750 million and a revised guidance also boosted the sentiment for the stock. Including the remaining part of the previous buyback, the company aims to repurchase stock worth $1 billion.

The company now sees total annual sales at $9.5 billion at midpoint, up from $9.35 billion at center of the range given in June.

Total sales increased 51% from last year to $2.31 billion driven by a blended same-restaurant sales increase of 47.5% and the addition of 34 new restaurants.

Earnings per share rose more than six-fold to $1.76. Both sales and EPS beat estimates.

 

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