Darden Issues FY24 Guidance, Lifts Quarterly Dividend; Board Chairman To Retire

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) said, for fiscal 2024, the company estimates adjusted net earnings per share from continuing operations of $8.55 to $8.85, excluding approximately $0.34, after-tax, of Ruth’s Chris integration related expenses. The company targets total sales of $11.5 to $11.6 billion in fiscal 2024. Same-restaurant sales growth is projected in a range of 2.5% to 3.5%. Darden targets new restaurant openings of approximately 50. The company’s projected total capital spending for the fiscal year is in a range of $550 to $600 million.

Darden and Eugene Lee, Jr., Chairman of the Board, announced that Lee has decided not to stand for reelection at the Annual Meeting. Following the annual meeting, the Board will be comprised of nine members.

Fourth quarter net earnings increased to $315.1 million from $281.7 million, last year. Reported net earnings per share increased 15.2% to $2.58 from $2.24. On average, 23 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report profit per share of $2.54, for the quarter. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items.

Fourth quarter total sales increased 6.4% to $2.8 billion driven by a blended same-restaurant sales increase of 4.0% and sales from 47 net new restaurants. Same-restaurant sales growth for consolidated Darden was 4.0%, for the quarter. Analysts on average had estimated $2.77 billion in revenue.

Darden’s Board declared a quarterly cash dividend of $1.31 per share, an 8% increase from third quarter fiscal 2023, on outstanding common stock. The dividend is payable on August 1, 2023 to shareholders of record at the close of business on July 10, 2023.

Shares of Darden are down 4% in pre-market trade on Thursday.

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