Darden Restaurants 1st-quarter adjusted profit, revenue beat analysts' expectations

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ORLANDO, Florida — Darden's reported a loss for its fiscal first quarter, pulled down partly by costs related to the retirement of about $1 billion of its debt. But excluding unusual items, the restaurant operator was profitable and both the adjusted profit and its revenue beat analysts' expectations.

The stock climbed in Friday premarket trading.

Darden Restaurants Inc. — whose restaurants include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse — lost $19.3 million, or 14 cents per share, for the three months ended Aug. 24. That compares with earnings of $42.2 million, or 32 cents per share, a year earlier.

Removing 37 cents per share in costs tied to the debt retirement as well as other items, earnings from continuing operations were 32 cents per share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet predicted earnings of 31 cents per share.

Revenue for the Orlando, Florida, company increased to $1.6 billion from $1.53 billion. Wall Street was looking for revenue of $1.59 billion.

Sales at Olive Garden locations open at least a year fell 1.3 percent. The figure rose 2.8 percent for LongHorn Steakhouse. The metric climbed 2.1 percent for the specialty restaurant group, which includes The Capital Grille, Eddie V's, Yard House, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52.

Darden still anticipates a fiscal 2015 adjusted profit in a range of $2.22 to $2.30 per share. Analysts expect $2.23 per share.

For the second quarter, the company forecasts an adjusted profit of 26 cents to 28 cents per share. It expects a third-quarter adjusted profit between 80 cents and 84 cents per share and a fourth-quarter adjusted profit between 87 cents and 91 cents per share.

Wall Street is calling for a second-quarter profit of 26 cents per share, third-quarter profit of 82 cents per share and fourth-quarter profit of 88 cents per share.

Shares of Darden rose $1.66, or 3.4 percent, to $49.95 in premarket trading 90 minutes before the market open.

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