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Actionable news in DRI: DARDEN RESTAURANTS Inc,

Darden Restaurants Reports Fiscal 2016 Third Quarter Results; REPORTS POSITIVE SAME-RESTAURANT SALES FOR ALL BRANDS; AND INCREASES SAME-RESTAURANT SALES AND EARNINGS OUTLOOK FOR THE FULL FISCAL YEAR

The following excerpt is from the company's SEC filing.

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE:DRI) today reported its financial results for the

quarter ended

February 28, 2016

Third Quarter 2016 Financial Highlights Versus Same Fiscal Quarter Last Year

Total sales from continuing operations increased 6.7% to $1.85 billion

Adjusted diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations increased 22.2% to $1.21*

On a reported basis, diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations were $0.84 and were negatively impacted by approximately $0.37, primarily related to the early retirement of debt

The company repurchased approximately $140 million of its outstanding common stock and retired $750 million in debt

Same-restaurant sales increased 6.2% for the fiscal quarter

(November 30, 2015 - February 28, 2016 vs. November 24, 2014 - February 22, 2015)

+6.8% for Olive Garden

+5.3% for The Capital Grille

+3.9% for Yard House

+5.2% for LongHorn Steakhouse

+4.1% for Eddie V’s

+5.7% for Seasons 52

+9.9% for Bahama Breeze

On a comparable calendar basis, same-restaurant sales increased 4.2% for the quarter

(November 30, 2015 - February 28, 2016 vs. December 1, 2014 - March 1, 2015)

+4.9% for Olive Garden

+4.3% for The Capital Grille

+3.1% for Yard House

+2.7% for LongHorn Steakhouse

+1.3% for Eddie V’s

+5.3% for Seasons 52

+6.3% for Bahama Breeze

Note: Due to the transition from a 53-week to a 52-week fiscal year, year-over-year fiscal period comparisons are offset by one week. Using comparable calendar periods balances the one-week shift and provides a clearer year-over-year comparison.

* See the "Non-GAAP Information" below for more details

“Our strong same-restaurant sales reinforce that our strategy is working as we continued to profitably grow market share during the quarter," said CEO Gene Lee. "Our teams are building loyalty every day with better guest experiences and improved value. Operating margins increased this quarter as we leveraged our sales growth and remained focused on disciplined cost management. Additionally, we returned over $200 million to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases this quarter.”

Segment Performance Versus Same Fiscal Period Last Year

Segment profit represents sales, less costs for food and beverage, restaurant labor, restaurant expenses and marketing expenses. Segment profit for fiscal 2016 includes the impact of additional rent expense related to the completion of our real estate strategy, primarily impacting Olive Garden and LongHorn.

Total Sales

Three Months Ended

Nine Months Ended

($ millions)

2/28/2016

2/22/2015

% Change

Consolidated Darden

1,847.5

1,730.9

5,143.3

4,885.7

1,019.8

2,856.8

2,752.3

1,174.4

1,106.5

Fine Dining

Other Business

Segment Profit

$220.1

$201.4

$569.2

$490.2

$196.9

$162.0

$118.3

U.S. Same-Restaurant Sales Results - Fiscal Calendar Basis

January

(3.2)%

Same-Restaurant Traffic

(4.5)%

Pricing

Menu-mix

(5.7)%

(7.4)%

(0.6)%

Note: The Company estimates that less severe winter weather in the third quarter of 2016 positively impacted fiscal same-restaurant sales by 40 basis points.

U.S. Same-Restaurant Sales Results - Comparable Calendar Basis

(0.4)%

(0.7)%

(1.1)%

Share Repurchase Program

During the quarter, the Company repurchased approximately 2.3 million shares of its common stock for a total cost of approximately $140 million. This leaves approximately $360 million remaining under the current $500 million repurchase authorization.

Updated Fiscal 2016 Financial Outlook

The Company projects fiscal 2016 full year adjusted diluted net earnings per share of $3.48 to $3.52, an increase of between 36% and 38% from fiscal 2015, on a 52-week basis.* This reflects the expectation that the Company's combined U.S. same-restaurant sales growth this fiscal year will be 3.0% to 3.5%.

* Based on Fiscal 2015 52-week adjusted diluted net EPS from continuing operations of $2.56, which is derived from the fiscal 2015 adjusted diluted net EPS from continuing operations of $2.63, less $0.07 per share impact of the 53rd week in fiscal 2015.

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