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Darden es la compañía de restaurante de servicio completo más grande del mundo
La familia Darden de restaurantes presenta algunas de las marcas más reconocidas y acertadas en el servicio completo de comida: Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze y Seasons 52. Nuestras marcas han sido establecidas durante décadas de aprendizaje de nuestros invitados. Sus inspiraciones culinarias vienen de los pueblos pesqueros de Maine, las mesas de familia de Italia y el Oeste Americano – iconos que reflejan la diversidad rica de aquellos que visitan nuestros restaurantes.

Inclusive, no es ninguna exageración el decir que nuestras marcas más grandes se han convertido en iconos. Desde la apertura de nuestro primer restaurante de Red Lobster en Lakeland en Florida, en 1968, Darden ha crecido para hacerse la compañía de restaurantes de servicio completo más grande del mundo. A través de subsidiarias, poseemos y operamos casi 1,800 restaurantes, empleamos a aproximadamente 180,000 personas y servimos más de 400 millones de comidas por año.
How It All Began
Generation Commitment
Recent News
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:53:00 -0400

ORLANDO, Fla., April 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today announced that leading independent proxy advisory firm, Egan-Jones Proxy Services, has recommended that Darden shareholders should revoke on Darden's BLUE revocation card and reject efforts by Starboard Value LP and its affiliates ("Starboard") to solicit consents in connection with Starboard's efforts to call a Special Meeting of Darden shareholders.  In its April 11 report, Egan-Jones recommends that:

"We believe that support for voting the Management ballot is merited and that voting the Management ballot (BLUE REVOCATION CARD) is in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders.  In arriving at that conclusion, we have considered the following:

1) We believe that shareholders should communicate their views directly to the Company and that Starboard's proposed special meeting is an inadequate alternative to voice their concerns on the proposed Red Lobster separation.

2) Further, we believe there are alternatives to a special meeting already available to shareholders that make a special meeting unnecessary.

3) Lastly, we are confident in the initiatives the Company has planned to improve performance, address changing industry dynamics in the casual dining sector and enhance shareholder value." 1

Darden issued the following statement regarding the Egan-Jones report:

We agree with the conclusion that this leading, independent proxy advisory firm has reached.  As we've said, all of us at Darden are focused on improving performance and enhancing shareholder value, and we believe the actions we are taking best position the Company to achieve these objectives.  We look forward to continuing our ongoing discussions and are committed to doing what is in the best interest of all Darden shareholders. 

If Darden shareholders have already submitted a white written request card to Starboard supporting the call of a Special Meeting, they can revoke such consent by submitting a BLUE revocation card to the Company today.  If shareholders have not submitted a white written request card to Starboard, shareholders may nevertheless communicate that they do not believe a Special Meeting is necessary or express their opposition to calling a special meeting by submitting the BLUE revocation card to the Company.

Shareholders who have questions regarding the consent solicitation, or need additional assistance, should contact Darden's proxy solicitor, Innisfree M&A Incorporated, toll-free at (877) 750-5836.

About Darden

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales.  Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people.  In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row.  Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us.  Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want.  For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

Information About Forward-Looking Statements

Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts, including without limitation statements concerning our future economic performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those reports). These risks and uncertainties include the ability to achieve the strategic plan to enhance shareholder value including the separation of Red Lobster, the high costs in connection with a spin-off which may not be recouped if the spin-off is not consummated, food safety and food-borne illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures, failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition, our plans to expand our smaller brands Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated costs to open, close, relocate or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures, shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual property, impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial reporting, or changes in accounting standards, an inability or failure to manage the accelerated impact of social media and other factors and uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

1 Permission to use quotation neither sought nor obtained.

 

NEWS/INFORMATION


Corporate Relations


P.O. Box 695011


Orlando, FL 32869-5011


Contacts:



(Analysts) Matthew Stroud

(407) 245-5288


(Media) Bob McAdam

(407) 245-5366

 

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:34:00 -0400

ORLANDO, Fla., April 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) issued the following statement regarding an April 11 report by Institutional Shareholder Services ("ISS").  The ISS report relates to whether Darden shareholders should submit consents to Starboard Value LP and its affiliates ("Starboard") in connection with Starboard's efforts to call a Special Meeting of Darden shareholders.

Although we disagree with ISS's conclusion, the ISS analysis importantly recognizes the validity of the position that "shareholders have a diversity of opinions on what the company should do, and that direct engagement with the board and management, rather than a single yes/no vote on a nonbinding proposal, is a more robust process for understanding 'what shareholders want'"[1].

We have been in ongoing discussions with shareholders and value the feedback we have received.  We look forward to continuing these conversations and are committed to doing what is in the best interest of all Darden shareholders. 

With regard to the April 11 report issued by Glass, Lewis & Co. regarding Starboard's consent solicitation, the Company stated:

The Glass Lewis report does not give appropriate consideration to the facts, including Darden's actual operating and financial performance and value creation initiatives, and the assertions regarding Darden's record of engagement are demonstrably false.  Further, the conclusions reach far beyond the question of whether to call a Special Meeting, which is currently the only matter before Darden shareholders.  We are disappointed that Glass Lewis issued this report without meeting any members of Darden's Board of Directors or management team.

All of us at Darden are focused on improving performance and enhancing shareholder value, and we believe the actions we are taking best position the Company to achieve these objectives.

If Darden shareholders have already submitted a white written request card to Starboard supporting the call of a Special Meeting, they can revoke such consent by submitting a BLUE revocation card to the Company today.  If shareholders have not submitted a white written request card to Starboard, shareholders may nevertheless communicate that they do not believe a Special Meeting is necessary or express their opposition to calling a special meeting by submitting the BLUE revocation card to the Company.

Shareholders who have questions regarding the consent solicitation, or need additional assistance, should contact Darden's proxy solicitor, Innisfree M&A Incorporated, toll-free at (877) 750-5836.

About Darden
Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales.  Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people.  In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row.  Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us.  Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want.  For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

Information About Forward-Looking Statements
Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts, including without limitation statements concerning our future economic performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those reports). These risks and uncertainties include the ability to achieve the strategic plan to enhance shareholder value including the separation of Red Lobster, the high costs in connection with a spin-off which may not be recouped if the spin-off is not consummated, food safety and food-borne illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures, failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition, our plans to expand our smaller brands Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated costs to open, close, relocate or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures, shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual property, impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial reporting, or changes in accounting standards, an inability or failure to manage the accelerated impact of social media and other factors and uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

[1] Permission to use quotation neither sought nor obtained.


SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General

(Analysts) Matthew Stroud, (407) 245-5288; (Media) Bob McAdam, (407) 245-5366
Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:51:00 -0400

ORLANDO, Fla., April 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) issued the following statement in response to the materials issued today by Starboard Value LP and its affiliates ("Starboard").

We are confident in the initiatives we have announced to improve performance and enhance shareholder value.

Optimizing the value of Darden's properties has always been a focus for the Company. The Board of Directors, with the assistance of two independent financial advisors and legal counsel, again recently conducted an extensive assessment of alternatives for Darden's real estate and determined that a real estate separation would not enhance long-term shareholder value.

The Company will review the latest Starboard materials and looks forward to addressing them in its ongoing conversations with Darden shareholders.

Darden has engaged Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financial advisor.  Morgan Stanley is serving as financial advisor and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is serving as legal advisor to Darden's Board of Directors.

Innisfree M&A Incorporated is serving as the Company's proxy solicitor and can be contacted toll-free at (888) 750-5834.

About Darden
Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales.  Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people.  In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row.  Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us.  Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want.  For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

Information About Forward-Looking Statements
Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts, including without limitation statements concerning our future economic performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those reports). These risks and uncertainties include the ability to achieve the strategic plan to enhance shareholder value including the separation of Red Lobster, the high costs in connection with a spin-off which may not be recouped if the spin-off is not consummated, food safety and food-borne illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures, failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition, our plans to expand our smaller brands Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated costs to open, close, relocate or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures, shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual property, impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial reporting, or changes in accounting standards, an inability or failure to manage the accelerated impact of social media and other factors and uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Important Additional Information
The Company, its directors and certain of its executive officers are participants in solicitations of Company stockholders. Information regarding the names of the Company's directors and executive officers and their respective interests in the Company by security holdings or otherwise is set forth in the Company's preliminary consent revocation solicitation statement, filed with the SEC on March 18, 2014, as amended, and the Company's proxy statement for its 2013 annual meeting of stockholders, filed with the SEC on August 6, 2013. Additional information can be found in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended May 26, 2013, filed with the SEC on July 19, 2013 and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the first three quarters of the fiscal year ended May 25, 2014 filed on September 30, 2013, January 2, 2014 and March 31, 2014, respectively. To the extent holdings of the Company's securities have changed, such changes have been reflected on Initial Statements of Beneficial Ownership on Form 3 or Statements of Change in Ownership on Form 4 filed with the SEC. These documents are available free of charge at the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.

STOCKHOLDERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO READ THE COMPANY'S CONSENT REVOCATION SOLICITATION STATEMENT AND BLUE REVOCATION CARD (INCLUDING ANY SUPPLEMENTS THERETO) AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS THAT THE COMPANY MAY FILE WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. Stockholders will be able to obtain, free of charge, the Company's consent revocation solicitation statement, BLUE revocation card and any other documents filed by the Company with the SEC at the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. In addition, copies will also be available at no charge at the Investors section of the Company's website at http://investor.darden.com/investors/investor-relations/default.aspx.

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General

(Analysts) Matthew Stroud, (407) 245-5288; (Media) Bob McAdam, (407) 245-5366
Mon, 24 Mar 2014 16:05:00 -0400

ORLANDO, Fla., March 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- A news release issued by Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) on March 21, 2014 included an incorrect dividend payment date.  The quarterly cash dividend of 55 cents per share on the Company's outstanding common stock is payable on May 1, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 10, 2014.

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row. Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: Financial

(Analysts) Matthew Stroud (407) 245-5288; (Media) Bob McAdam (407) 245-5366
Fri, 21 Mar 2014 07:00:00 -0400

ORLANDO, Fla., March 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today reported diluted net earnings per share and sales for the third quarter ended February 23, 2014. 

Headlines for the quarter include:

  • Third quarter diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations were 82 cents, a 19.6% decrease from the $1.02 per diluted share in the third quarter of last year.  Net earnings from continuing operations in this year's third quarter were $109.5 million, which compares to net earnings from continuing operations of $134.5 million in the third quarter last year.

  • The Company estimates that diluted net earnings per share for the third quarter were adversely affected by approximately thirteen cents in total by two factors, with: (1) approximately seven cents due to lower sales and higher direct costs associated with more severe winter weather than last year and (2) approximately six cents due to legal, financial advisory and other costs related to implementation of the strategic action plan Darden announced in December 2013.

  • Third quarter total sales from continuing operations were $2.23 billion, a 1.1% decline from the $2.26 billion generated in the third quarter of last year.  The decline reflects a blended same-restaurant sales decline of 5.6% for Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse and a same restaurant-sales decline of 0.7% for the Company's Specialty Restaurant Group partially offset by the operation of 83 net new restaurants compared to the third quarter last year.

  • The Company's effective tax rate for the third quarter of fiscal 2014 was 9.7% compared to 22.3% for the comparable prior year period due primarily to lower earnings and the timing of certain tax benefits associated with an employee benefit plan.

  • In the third quarter, U.S. same-restaurant sales increased 0.3% at LongHorn Steakhouse, declined 5.4% at Olive Garden, declined 8.8% at Red Lobster and declined 0.7% at the Specialty Restaurant Group.  These results include the adverse effect of the more severe winter weather (approximately 160 basis points) and the adverse effect of a shift in the Thanksgiving holiday week (approximately 100 basis points). Excluding these impacts, same-restaurant sales for the third quarter would have been up approximately 2.9% at LongHorn Steakhouse, down approximately 2.8% at Olive Garden, down approximately 6.2% at Red Lobster and up approximately 1.9% at the Specialty Restaurant Group.

  • The Company affirmed its current projection for diluted net earnings per share for fiscal year 2014 to decline between 15% and 20% compared to fiscal year 2013, excluding any costs incurred in the third and fourth quarters in connection with the implementation of the strategic action plan announced in December. 

  • Darden's Board of Directors also declared a quarterly dividend of 55 cents per share.

Operating Headlines

OLIVE GARDEN'S third quarter sales of $929 million were 3.4% lower than the prior year due to its U.S. same-restaurant sales decline of 5.4% partially offset by revenue from 18 net new restaurants.  For the quarter, on a percentage of sales basis, restaurant expenses and depreciation and amortization expenses were higher.  This resulted in a decline for the quarter in both operating profit and operating profit as a percentage of sales.

RED LOBSTER'S third quarter sales of $611 million were 8.7% lower than the prior year, which reflected its U.S. same-restaurant sales decline of 8.8% partially offset by one net new restaurant.  For the quarter, on a percentage of sales basis, food and beverage expenses, restaurant labor expenses, restaurant expenses, and depreciation and amortization expenses were higher compared to the third quarter of last year, while selling, general and administrative expenses were lower.  The net result is that operating profit and operating profit as a percentage of sales were below last year. 

LONGHORN STEAKHOUSE'S third quarter sales of $363 million were 9.1% higher than the prior year, driven by revenue from 37 net new restaurants and its U.S. same-restaurant sales increase of 0.3%.  For the quarter, on a percentage of sales basis, food and beverage expenses and restaurant labor expenses were lower and restaurant expenses and selling, general and administrative expenses were higher.  This resulted in an increase for the quarter in operating profit and a decline in operating profit as a percentage of sales.

THE SPECIALTY RESTAURANT GROUP'S third quarter sales of $320 million were 11.6% higher than the prior year, driven by same-restaurant sales increases of 0.8% at Bahama Breeze and 0.1% at The Capital Grille offset by same-restaurant sales declines of 0.1% at Yard House, 2.9% at Eddie V's and 4.4% at Seasons 52.  Sales growth for the Group also reflected revenue from five new restaurants at The Capital Grille, four at Bahama Breeze, ten at Seasons 52, two at Eddie V's and five at Yard House.  

Fiscal 2014 December, January and February U.S. Same-Restaurant Sales Results

Darden reported U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal months of December, January and February as follows:





Olive Garden

December

January

February

Same-Restaurant Sales

-10.5%

-2.0%

-2.6%

Same-Restaurant Traffic

-12.9%

-4.6%

-4.9%

Pricing

1.7%

1.8%

1.7%

Menu mix

0.7%

0.8%

0.6%





Red Lobster

December

January

February

Same-Restaurant Sales

-10.2%

-12.2%

-4.5%

Same-Restaurant Traffic

-12.3%

-18.7%

-11.9%

Pricing

1.7%

1.8%

1.7%

Menu mix

0.4%

4.7%

5.8%





LongHorn Steakhouse

December

January

February

Same-Restaurant Sales

-3.0%

2.1%

2.2%

Same-Restaurant Traffic

-5.2%

0.7%

-0.4%

Pricing

2.3%

2.4%

2.7%

Menu Mix

-0.1%

-1.0%

-0.1%





Note: Fiscal December same-restaurant sales results were adversely affected by approximately 270 basis points due to the Thanksgiving week shifting from fiscal November last year into fiscal December this year.  The Company estimates that winter weather adversely affected same-restaurant sales results by approximately 140 basis points in fiscal December, 190 basis points in fiscal January and 170 basis points in fiscal February. 

Other Actions

Darden's Board of Directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of 55 cents per share on the Company's outstanding common stock.  The dividend is payable on May 5, 2014 to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 10, 2014. 

Fiscal 2014 Financial Outlook

Darden reaffirmed its previous earnings outlook for fiscal year 2014 due largely to greater than anticipated progress in implementing its cost management initiatives which helped to offset the impact of the more severe winter weather and other topline challenges in the third quarter.  Consistent with the expectations it provided in December and early March, Darden expects diluted net earnings per share for fiscal year 2014 to decline between 15% and 20% compared to fiscal 2013.  These expectations reflect the Company's projection that U.S. same-restaurant sales results for the full fiscal year will be -5.5% to -6.5% for Red Lobster, -2.5% to -3.5% for Olive Garden and +2.0% to +3.0% for LongHorn Steakhouse.  Current earnings expectations for the year also reflect the opening of approximately 70 net new restaurants, the net impact of the support expense reduction action announced in September 2013, as well as the legal, financial advisory and other costs incurred in the second quarter in connection with the strategic action plan announced in December 2013.  The earnings forecast for fiscal year 2014 does not include costs the Company incurred in the third quarter or is likely to incur in the fourth quarter in connection with the separation of Red Lobster and other strategic actions announced in December. 

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row. Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit www.darden.com 

Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts, including without limitation statements concerning our future economic performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements.  By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those reports). These risks and uncertainties include the ability to achieve the strategic plan to enhance shareholder value including the separation of Red Lobster, the high costs in connection with a spin-off which may not be recouped if the spin-off is not consummated, food safety and food-borne illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures, failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition, our plans to expand our smaller brands Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated costs to open, close, relocate or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures, shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual property, impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial reporting, or changes in accounting standards, an inability or failure to manage the accelerated impact of social media and other factors and uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 










DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC.

NUMBER OF COMPANY-OWNED RESTAURANTS
























02/23/14




02/24/13










679


Red Lobster USA


678










27


Red Lobster Canada


27










706


Total Red Lobster


705










830


Olive Garden USA


812










6


Olive Garden Canada


6










836


Total Olive Garden


818










453


LongHorn Steakhouse


416










53


The Capital Grille


48










37


Bahama Breeze


33










38


Seasons 52


28










13


Eddie V's


11










48


Yard House


43










6


Other


5










2,190


Total Restaurants


2,107

 

 

DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC.

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF EARNINGS

(In millions, except per share data)

(Unaudited)



Three Months Ended


Nine Months Ended


2/23/2014


2/24/2013


2/23/2014


2/24/2013

Sales

$

2,233.1



$

2,258.2



$

6,441.5



$

6,253.0


Costs and expenses:








Cost of sales:








Food and beverage

697.2



695.1



1,999.0



1,921.5


Restaurant labor

702.9



709.0



2,069.8



1,971.5


Restaurant expenses

360.8



348.2



1,063.5



977.8


Total cost of sales (1)

$

1,760.9



$

1,752.3



$

5,132.3



$

4,870.8


Selling, general and administrative

209.3



199.8



660.5



634.1


Depreciation and amortization

108.5



101.0



321.9



292.8


Interest, net

33.1



31.9



98.7



92.7


Total costs and expenses

$

2,111.8



$

2,085.0



$

6,213.4



$

5,890.4


Earnings before income taxes

121.3



173.2



228.1



362.6


Income taxes

11.8



38.7



28.5



83.3


Earnings from continuing operations

$

109.5



$

134.5



$

199.6



$

279.3


Earnings (losses) from discontinued operations, net of tax expense

   (benefit) of $0.1, $(0.2), $0.0 and $(0.4), respectively

0.2



(0.1)



0.1



(0.5)


Net earnings

$

109.7



$

134.4



$

199.7



$

278.8


Basic net earnings per share:








Earnings from continuing operations

$

0.83



$

1.04



$

1.53



$

2.17


Earnings (losses) from discontinued operations

0.01








Net earnings

$

0.84



$

1.04



$

1.53



$

2.17


Diluted net earnings per share:








Earnings from continuing operations

$

0.82



$

1.02



$

1.50



$

2.13


Earnings (losses) from discontinued operations







(0.01)


Net earnings

$

0.82



$

1.02



$

1.50



$

2.12


Average number of common shares outstanding:








Basic

131.3



129.3



130.7



128.7


Diluted

133.4



131.5



132.9



131.4










(1) Excludes restaurant depreciation and amortization as follows:

$

103.0



$

95.8



$

305.6



$

277.2


 

 

DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC.

CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(In millions)



2/23/2014


5/26/2013


(Unaudited)



ASSETS




Current assets:




Cash and cash equivalents

$

127.0



$

88.2


Receivables, net

69.0



85.4


Inventories

461.0



356.9


Prepaid income taxes

11.7



6.4


Prepaid expenses and other current assets

75.4



83.4


Deferred income taxes

165.1



144.6


Total current assets

$

909.2



$

764.9


Land, buildings and equipment, net

4,512.2



4,391.1


Goodwill

907.6



908.3


Trademarks

574.6



573.8


Other assets

321.2



298.8


Total assets

$

7,224.8



$

6,936.9


LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY




Current liabilities:




Accounts payable

$

358.3



$

296.5


Short-term debt

181.5



164.5


Accrued payroll

149.9



150.5


Accrued income taxes

14.5



16.5


Other accrued taxes

63.8



67.6


Unearned revenues

347.4



270.5


Current portion of long-term debt

15.0




Other current liabilities

511.1



450.3


Total current liabilities

$

1,641.5



$

1,416.4


Long-term debt, less current portion

2,481.0



2,496.2


Deferred income taxes

344.2



356.4


Deferred rent

253.3



230.5


Obligations under capital leases, net of current installments

52.6



52.5


Other liabilities

330.5



325.4


Total liabilities

$

5,103.1



$

4,877.4


Stockholders' equity:




Common stock and surplus

$

1,280.9



$

1,207.6


Retained earnings

982.0



998.9


Treasury stock

(7.8)



(8.1)


Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss)

(128.0)



(132.8)


Unearned compensation

(5.4)



(6.1)


Total stockholders' equity

$

2,121.7



$

2,059.5


Total liabilities and stockholders' equity

$

7,224.8



$

6,936.9


 

 

DARDEN RESTAURANTS, INC.

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF CASH FLOWS

(In millions)

(Unaudited)



Nine Months Ended


2/23/2014


2/24/2013

Cash flows—operating activities




Net earnings

$

199.7



$

278.8


(Earnings) losses from discontinued operations, net of tax benefit

(0.1)



0.5


Adjustments to reconcile net earnings from continuing operations to cash flows:




Depreciation and amortization

321.9



292.8


Stock-based compensation expense

39.5



36.0


Change in current assets and liabilities and other, net

106.0



81.9


Net cash provided by operating activities of continuing operations

$

667.0



$

690.0


Cash flows—investing activities




Purchases of land, buildings and equipment

(468.3)



(518.5)


Proceeds from disposal of land, buildings and equipment

3.2




Cash used in business acquisitions, net of cash acquired



(577.4)


Increase in other assets

(15.9)



(23.0)


Net cash used in investing activities of continuing operations

$

(481.0)



$

(1,118.9)


Cash flows—financing activities




Proceeds from issuance of common stock

43.8



49.4


Income tax benefits credited to equity

9.5



10.4


Dividends paid

(215.7)



(193.2)


Repurchases of common stock

(0.5)



(52.4)


ESOP note receivable repayment

0.7



0.9


Proceeds from issuance (repayments) of short-term debt, net

17.0



(45.7)


Repayment of long-term debt



(350.9)


Proceeds from issuance of long-term debt



1,050.0


Payment of debt issuance costs

(1.4)



(7.4)


Principal payments on capital leases

(1.5)



(1.2)


Net cash (used in) provided by financing activities of continuing operations

$

(148.1)



$

459.9


Cash flows—discontinued operations




Net cash used in operating activities of discontinued operations

(0.3)



(0.3)


Net cash provided by investing activities of discontinued operations

1.2



2.7


Net cash provided by discontinued operations

$

0.9



$

2.4






Decrease in cash and cash equivalents

38.8



33.4


Cash and cash equivalents - beginning of period

88.2



70.5


Cash and cash equivalents - end of period

$

127.0



$

103.9


 

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SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: Financial

(Analysts) Matthew Stroud (407) 245-5288; (Media) Bob McAdam (407) 245-5366
Fri, 14 Mar 2014 13:02:00 -0400

ORLANDO, Fla., March 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc., (DRI) will host its Fiscal 2014 Third Quarter conference call on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 8:45 am ET.  The conference call will be broadcast live over the Internet.  Clarence Otis, Chairman & CEO, and other senior management invite you to listen to a discussion of third quarter results. The subjects to be covered may also include forward-looking information, such as the outlook for the current month or quarter, and the company's previously-announced earnings guidance.  Questions may be posed to management by participants on the call and in response the company may disclose additional material information.

A copy of our press release announcing our earnings, the Form 8-K used to file the release with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and any other financial and statistical information about the period covered in the conference call, including any information required by Regulation G, will be available under the heading "Investor Relations" on our website at www.darden.com.

To listen to the call live, please go to the following website at least fifteen minutes early to register, download, and install any necessary audio software.  For those who cannot listen to the live broadcast, a replay will be available shortly after the call.

What:               Darden Restaurants, Inc. FY14 Third Quarter Earnings Conference Call

When:              8:45 am ET, Friday, March 21, 2014

Where:             http://www.videonewswire.com/event.asp?id=98501

How:                Live over the Internet – Simply log on to the web at the address above

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2013, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the third year in a row and is the only full-service restaurant company to ever appear on the list. Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

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SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: Financial

(Analysts), Matthew Stroud, (407) 245-5288, (Media), Rich Jeffers, (407) 245-4189
Thu, 13 Mar 2014 10:00:00 -0400

Offer includes customizable entree options that give guests even more variety and value

ORLANDO, Fla., March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Starting today, Olive Garden is giving guests even more value and variety with a three-course Italian dinner starting at just $9.99. For a limited time, guests can create their own pasta entree from the new Cucina Mia menu and also enjoy unlimited garlic breadsticks, choice of homemade soup or garden-fresh salad, and dessert.

Olive Garden is giving guests even more value and variety with a three-course Italian dinner featuring the new Cucina Mia menu starting at just $9.99.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR OWN ITALIAN DINNER
Here's how this limited time three-course Italian dinner offer works:

1. Start with freshly baked breadsticks and choice of unlimited homemade soup or garden-fresh salad

2. Choose from six pastas and five sauces:

  • Pastas: Large Paccheri, Tri-Colored Vegetable Penne made with spinach and tomato, Gluten-Free Rotini, Bucatini, Cavatappi, Whole Wheat Linguine
  • Made-from-scratch sauces: Roasted Garlic Alfredo, Spicy Diavolo, Primavera, Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato, Fresh Tomato Pomodoro
  • Add a topping (additional cost): Chicken Meatballs, Sausage Meatballs, Meatballs, Sauteed Shrimp

3. Finish with dessert from a choice of Chocolate Mousse Cake, Salted Caramel Tiramisu or traditional Tiramisu

Connect with Olive Garden at Facebook.com/OliveGarden, Twitter.com/OliveGarden and Instagram.com/OfficialOliveGarden.

For more information and to find your nearest Olive Garden restaurant, visit OliveGarden.com.

ABOUT OLIVE GARDEN

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 800 restaurants, more than 96,000 employees and more than $3.6 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), which owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales.  Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people.  In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row.  Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us.  Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want.  For more information, please visit www.darden.com

Visit www.olivegarden.com or www.facebook.com/olivegarden.com to learn more!

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SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General

Justin Sikora, JSikora@darden.com, 407-245-5219 or Priscilla Zuchowski, Priscilla.Zuchowski@edelman.com, 312-552-1133
Mon, 10 Mar 2014 17:35:00 -0400

ORLANDO, Fla., March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today announced that, in connection with the separation of the Red Lobster business, it has filed a Form 10 Registration Statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  

As previously announced, the Company is exploring parallel paths for the separation, including a tax-free spin-off of the Red Lobster business to Darden shareholders as well as a sale of the Red Lobster business, the process for which is well underway. 

A copy of the Form 10 Registration Statement, which contains information about a potential spin-off transaction for separating Red Lobster including distribution of all the shares of Red Lobster Seafood Co., is available on the Company's website http://investor.darden.com/investors/financial-information/sec-filings/.   

About Darden

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales.  Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people.  In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row.  Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's Prime Seafood and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us.  Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want.  For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

Information About Forward-Looking Statements

Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts, including without limitation statements concerning our future economic performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those reports). These risks and uncertainties include the ability to achieve the strategic plan to enhance shareholder value including the separation of Red Lobster, the high costs in connection with a spin-off which may not be recouped if the spin-off is not consummated, food safety and food-borne illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures, failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition, our plans to expand our smaller brands Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated costs to open, close, relocate or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures, shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual property, impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial reporting, or changes in accounting standards, an inability or failure to manage the accelerated impact of social media and other factors and uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Important Additional Information
The Company, its directors and certain of its executive officers are participants in solicitations of Company stockholders.  Information regarding the names of the Company's directors and executive officers and their respective interests in the Company by security holdings or otherwise is set forth in the Company's proxy statement for its 2013 annual meeting of stockholders, filed with the SEC on August 6, 2013.  Additional information can be found in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended May 26, 2013, filed with the SEC on July 19, 2013 and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the first two quarters of the fiscal year ended May 25, 2014 filed on September 30, 2013 and January 2, 2014, respectively.  To the extent holdings of the Company's securities have changed since the amounts printed in the proxy statement for the 2013 annual meeting of stockholders, such changes have been reflected on Initial Statements of Beneficial Ownership on Form 3 or Statements of Change in Ownership on Form 4 filed with the SEC.  These documents are available free of charge at the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.

STOCKHOLDERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO READ ANY COMPANY SOLICITATION STATEMENT (INCLUDING ANY SUPPLEMENTS THERETO) AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS THAT THE COMPANY MAY FILE WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION.  Stockholders will be able to obtain, free of charge, copies of any solicitation statement and any other documents filed by the Company with the SEC at the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.  In addition, copies will also be available at no charge at the Investors section of the Company's website at http://investor.darden.com/investors/investor-relations/default.aspx.

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General

(Analysts) Matthew Stroud,(407) 245-5288 or (Media) Bob McAdam, (407) 245-5366
Mon, 03 Mar 2014 07:00:00 -0500
Company to Host Conference Call and Webcast Today at 8:30 am ET

ORLANDO, Fla., March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today filed an investor presentation detailing its priorities for creating sustainable value for all Darden shareholders and for driving growth and performance across its brands.  Members of the Company's management team will be speaking directly with investors about these priorities and actions.  In addition, the Company will host a conference call and webcast today at 8:30 am ET.  The associated slides will be available on the Company's website at www.darden.com.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. Logo

"Darden's Board of Directors and management team are focused on creating value for all Darden shareholders, and we are confident in the actions the Company is taking to deliver on this responsibility," said Chuck Ledsinger, Lead Director of Darden's Board of Directors. "Darden's Board and management have undertaken a thorough evaluation of various operational, strategic and financial alternatives available to the Company.  This extensive review included analyses and advice from the Company's financial advisors, Goldman, Sachs & Co., and legal counsel, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, as well as discussion with and feedback from Darden shareholders.  It also included analyses and advice from Morgan Stanley, as financial advisors working exclusively at the direction of the Board.  Based on this review and the deep understanding of the Company and its industry that the members of the Board have developed collectively over many years, the Board believes strongly that the plan announced in December, together with the additional details presented today, provide the best path forward for capitalizing on Darden's position as the nation's premier full-service restaurant company and driving sustainable shareholder value."

Clarence Otis, Darden's Chairman and CEO, said, "The Olive Garden brand renaissance is underway, and we are driving profitable growth at LongHorn Steakhouse and the Specialty Restaurant Group.  At Red Lobster, we are on track with the separation plan.  That plan includes a process in which we are exploring the potential sale of the business, as well as a parallel process to spin the business off.  Red Lobster is implementing initiatives that will improve results for the balance of the year and support the brand's success on a standalone basis.  Our actions to drive efficiencies across the organization are resulting in meaningful savings, with more to come.  And Darden's strong cash flows are continuing to support significant return of capital to shareholders.  Notwithstanding the changing dynamics and challenges in our industry, we have a strong foundation in place.  We look forward to talking directly with Darden shareholders and the investment community to provide further insight about our plans and initiatives to drive shareholder value."

Highlights of Darden's presentation include:

Execute Olive Garden Brand Renaissance

  • A holistic core menu and promotion plan aimed at broadening the choice, variety and value that Olive Garden offers guests.
  • A robust operations improvement plan focused on reducing culinary complexity to enable menu innovation, strengthen in-restaurant employee engagement and reduce food preparation-related labor costs and waste.
  • A robust service strengthening path with training that is even more grounded in the guest point of view and that encourages more personalized service delivery.
  • A new approach to advertising and promotion that includes a richer mix of targeted food and other news that is relevant for a wide range of guest occasions, and the use of a variety of media, including online and social.
  • A new remodel and logo direction which currently contemplates that 75 restaurants will be remodeled in fiscal 2015 and 125 to 150 in fiscal 2016 through 2017.
  • Cementing Olive Garden's hard earned position in the marketplace, where it has long delighted guests as "a nicer place than the price suggests."

Separate Red Lobster Through a Spin-Off or Sale to Enhance Focus and Improve Performance

Darden remains on track to execute its previously announced plan to separate the Red Lobster business through either a tax-free spin-off to Darden shareholders or a sale of the Red Lobster business. The sale process is well underway.  The Company has also begun the process of establishing separate financials and associated infrastructure for the Red Lobster business should the Board determine that the spin-off alternative creates more value for shareholders.    

As consumer demand dynamics have changed, Red Lobster's priorities and operating support requirements have come to differ meaningfully from those of Darden's other brands, which are having greater success increasing appeal among consumers outside their core guest profiles. By establishing two independent companies, a separation will better enable the management teams of each company to focus their exclusive attention on their distinct value creation opportunities.  To elevate focus on consumers who have its core guest profile, Red Lobster has developed a clearly defined vision and plan that includes:

  • Greater focus on seafood quality, craveability and variety which its guests have long looked to Red Lobster for.
  • Streamlining restaurant operations to drive efficiency that will support the affordability many of Red Lobster's core guests need and want.
  • More tailored marketing and promotional strategy that leverages brand equity with core guests.

Further Optimize Operating Support and Direct Operating Costs

Through an aggressive approach to managing operating support costs, the Company expects savings of at least $60 million annually beginning in fiscal year 2015, as previously announced.  The Company is focused on identifying additional opportunities for support cost savings and is also exploring the potential for direct operating cost optimization, while being mindful of the need to preserve the guest experience at its restaurants.  The Company has retained Alvarez & Marsal North America to assist with these efforts and with identifying potential revenue enhancement opportunities.

Maintain Balanced Approach to Capital Allocation

Darden's strong cash flows have supported a level of return of capital to shareholders that has outpaced the industry, while also enabling key growth initiatives. 

  • Darden will have returned $4 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends from the beginning of fiscal year 2004 through fiscal year 2014.
  • In the past five years, Darden returned $1.95 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends.
  • Darden has doubled its dividend over the past four years and, most recently, in June 2013, the Company raised its quarterly dividend by 10% to $0.55 per share, or $2.20 annually.

Going forward, Darden will maintain a balanced approach to capital allocation that includes:

  • Continuing to target an approximately 70% to 75% dividend payout ratio that would be reduced over time to approximately 50% to 60%.
  • Maintaining an active share buyback program, the details of which will be announced as the Red Lobster separation plans are finalized.
  • Focusing capital expenditures on organic growth initiatives.
  • Improving key credit metrics.

Real Estate

Optimizing Darden's real estate assets is a focus for the Company.  As part of the process of setting these priorities, the Board, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, carefully considered several real estate monetization alternatives.  These included using the Company's real estate to establish and spin-off on a tax-free basis an independent, standalone triple-net lease real estate investment trust (REIT), as well as the possibility of engaging in a series of sale-leaseback transactions to separate the real estate.  It determined, among other things, that:

  • Full real estate separation via the formation of a REIT would introduce significant operational complexity, remove from Darden an important strategic asset and likely not create meaningful shareholder value.
  • Formation of a REIT would reduce the remaining Darden operating company's operating cash flow, weaken its credit profile, increase its borrowing costs and limit its ability to support a dividend, repurchase shares and meet its ongoing brand development needs – factors that would have important adverse consequences for its valuation.
  • A Darden property REIT would lack the characteristics of highly-valued REITs – in particular, it would have exposure to a single, non-investment grade tenant with one property type that has very specific use limitations as well as a high concentration of ground leases – and this would likely result in a valuation that would be at a meaningful discount to the triple-net lease REIT comparable universe.
  • Formation of a REIT would involve meaningful friction costs, the most significant being the debt breakage expense associated with the expected refinancing of Darden's approximately $2.5 billion in current debt, which would be necessitated by such a transaction.
  • A REIT spin-off is a transaction that entails significant tax complexity and uncertainty that could result in meaningful additional fixed costs and contingent liabilities.
  • Separation of the Company's real estate via a series of sale-leaseback transactions would, in effect, be an expensive form of secured debt financing relative to other options available to Darden.  Such transactions would also result in potentially meaningful tax leakage and would raise many of the same issues related to the formation of a REIT, including the necessity of refinancing all of Darden's outstanding debt.

Conference Call and Webcast

Darden will host an investor call regarding the announcement today, March 3, at 8:30 am ET.  A live webcast of the conference call, along with the related slide presentation, may be accessed at www.darden.com and clicking on the "Investors" tab or http://www.videonewswire.com/event.asp?id=98321.  The call can also be joined via phone at 888-469-2050.  A replay of the conference call via the Company's website will be available approximately two hours after the call's conclusion.  A telephone replay may be accessed approximately two hours after the call's conclusion through April 2, 2014, by dialing 866-431-2893.

About Darden

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales.  Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people.  In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row.  Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us.  Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want.  For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

Information About Forward-Looking Statements

Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts, including without limitation statements concerning our future economic performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those reports). These risks and uncertainties include the ability to achieve the strategic plan to enhance shareholder value including the separation of Red Lobster, the high costs in connection with a spin-off which may not be recouped if the spin-off is not consummated, food safety and food-borne illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures, failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition, our plans to expand our smaller brands Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated costs to open, close, relocate or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures, shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual property, impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial reporting, or changes in accounting standards, an inability or failure to manage the accelerated impact of social media and other factors and uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Important Additional Information

The Company, its directors and certain of its executive officers are participants in solicitations of Company stockholders.  Information regarding the names of the Company's directors and executive officers and their respective interests in the Company by security holdings or otherwise is set forth in the Company's proxy statement for its 2013 annual meeting of stockholders, filed with the SEC on August 6, 2013.  Additional information can be found in the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended May 26, 2013, filed with the SEC on July 19, 2013 and its Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the first two quarters of the fiscal year ended May 25, 2014 filed on September 30, 2013 and January 2, 2014, respectively.  To the extent holdings of the Company's securities have changed since the amounts printed in the proxy statement for the 2013 annual meeting of stockholders, such changes have been reflected on Initial Statements of Beneficial Ownership on Form 3 or Statements of Change in Ownership on Form 4 filed with the SEC.  These documents are available free of charge at the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.

STOCKHOLDERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO READ ANY COMPANY SOLICITATION STATEMENT (INCLUDING ANY SUPPLEMENTS THERETO) AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS THAT THE COMPANY MAY FILE WITH THE SEC CAREFULLY AND IN THEIR ENTIRETY BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION.  Stockholders will be able to obtain, free of charge, copies of any solicitation statement and any other documents filed by the Company with the SEC at the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.  In addition, copies will also be available at no charge at the Investors section of the Company's website at http://investor.darden.com/investors/investor-relations/default.aspx.

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SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: General

(Analysts) Matthew Stroud, (407) 245-5288; (Media) Bob McAdam, (407) 245-5366
Mon, 03 Mar 2014 07:00:00 -0500

ORLANDO, Fla., March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) today reported that it expects diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations for its fiscal third quarter ending February 23, 2014, to be approximately $0.82.  The Company estimates that lower sales and higher direct costs associated with more severe winter weather than last year adversely affected diluted net earnings per share for this year's third quarter by approximately seven cents.  The Company also estimates that legal, financial advisory and other costs associated with implementation of the strategic action plan it announced in December 2013 reduced diluted net earnings per share for the third quarter by approximately six cents.  The Company expects to release its fiscal 2014 third quarter earnings on Friday, March 21, 2014, at 7:00 am ET.

Darden expects U.S. same-restaurant sales for the third quarter to increase 0.3% at LongHorn Steakhouse, decline 5.4% at Olive Garden and decline 8.8% at Red Lobster.  The Company estimates that blended U.S. same-restaurant sales for the third quarter for its Specialty Restaurant Group will be down approximately 0.7%.  These results include the adverse effect of the more severe winter weather (approximately 160 basis points) and the adverse effect of a shift in the Thanksgiving holiday week (approximately 100 basis points).  The Thanksgiving holiday occurred in this year's fiscal third quarter and in last year's fiscal second quarter.  Excluding the effects of more severe weather and the Thanksgiving holiday week shift, same-restaurant sales for the third quarter would have been up approximately 2.9% at LongHorn Steakhouse, down approximately 2.8% at Olive Garden, down approximately 6.2% at Red Lobster and up approximately 1.9% at the Specialty Restaurant Group.

Darden today also reaffirmed its previous earnings outlook for fiscal year 2014, due in part to greater than anticipated progress in implementing its cost management initiatives, which helped to offset the impact of the severe winter weather and other topline challenges in the third quarter.  Consistent with the expectations it provided in December, Darden expects a decline in diluted net earnings per share for fiscal year 2014 of 15% to 20% compared to fiscal year 2013, excluding any costs incurred in the third and fourth quarters in connection with the strategic action plan that was announced in December. 

"Adjusting for weather and the Thanksgiving holiday shift, we had solid results at LongHorn Steakhouse and our Specialty Restaurant brands," said Clarence Otis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Darden.  "At Olive Garden, we had a particularly difficult December but same-restaurant sales results improved during the balance of the quarter, when they were consistent with results for the casual dining industry overall.  We are encouraged by the progress the Olive Garden team is making with its Brand Renaissance plan to elevate the guest experience and reinvigorate sales.  An important milestone is the meaningfully enhanced core menu introduced on February 24, which has a wide range of exciting new offerings.  At Red Lobster, we were encouraged to see trend improvement towards the end of the quarter as we moved past some initial distraction related to the announcement that we are pursuing the sale or spin-off of the business.  We are working diligently to complete the separation and to implement the other elements of our comprehensive plan to address changing industry dynamics, leverage the Company's position as the premier casual dining restaurant company, enhance guest experiences and reinvigorate performance.  As we look forward, we remain confident we are taking the right steps to enhance sustainable value for our shareholders."

Preliminary Fiscal 2014 December, January and February U.S. Same-Restaurant Sales Results

Darden reported preliminary U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal months of December, January and February as follows:

Olive Garden

December

January

February

Same-Restaurant Sales

-10.5%

-2.0%

-2.6%

Same-Restaurant Traffic

-12.9%

-4.6%

-4.9%





Red Lobster

December

January

February

Same-Restaurant Sales

-10.2%

-12.2%

-4.5%

Same-Restaurant Traffic

-12.3%

-18.7%

-11.9%





LongHorn Steakhouse

December

January

February

Same-Restaurant Sales

-3.0%

2.1%

2.2%

Same-Restaurant Traffic

-5.2%

0.7%

-0.4%

Note: Fiscal December same-restaurant sales results were adversely affected by approximately 270 basis points due to the Thanksgiving week shifting from fiscal November last year into fiscal December this year.  The Company estimates that winter weather adversely affected same-restaurant sales results by approximately 140 basis points in fiscal December, 190 basis points in fiscal January and 170 basis points in fiscal February. 

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,100 restaurants that generate over $8.5 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., and employing more than 200,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that rewards caring for and responding to people.  In 2014, Darden was named to the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the fourth year in a row.  Our restaurant brands – Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's and Yard House – reflect the rich diversity of those who dine with us.  Our brands are built on deep insights into what our guests want.  For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts, including without limitation statements concerning our future economic performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements.  By their nature, forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements. The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form 10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those reports). These risks and uncertainties include the ability to achieve the strategic plan to enhance shareholder value including the separation of Red Lobster, the high costs in connection with a spin-off which may not be recouped if the spin-off is not consummated, food safety and food-borne illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures, failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition, our plans to expand our smaller brands Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated costs to open, close, relocate or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures, shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual property, impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial reporting, or changes in accounting standards, an inability or failure to manage the accelerated impact of social media and other factors and uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: Financial

(Analysts) Matthew Stroud, (407) 245-5288; (Media) Bob McAdam, (407) 245-5366