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Olive Garden owner Darden warns on 3rd quarter

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 22, 2013 at 10:37 am •  Published: February 22, 2013

Darden Restaurants Inc. said net income from continuing operations in December-February period will be $1 to $1.02 per share, below analyst expectations of $1.12 per share, according to FactSet.

That's based on revenue in restaurants open at least one year, a key retail metric, dropping 4 percent at Olive Garden, 7 percent at Red Lobster and 1.5 percent at LongHorn Steakhouse. For its division of smaller restaurant chains, it expects the measure to rise 2 percent.

For the fiscal year ending in May, Darden predicted revenue in restaurants open at least one year to rise 6 to 7 percent across its chains, with a drop of 1.5 to 2.5 percent for the division containing the Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse chains.

The company cut its outlook for 2013 earnings from continuing operations to $3.06 to $3.22 per share, from a December prediction of $3.29 to $3.49 per share. Analysts expected $3.38 per share.

The forecast includes costs of 9 cents per share related to acquiring the Yard House restaurant chain.

Darden plans to announce third-quarter results March 22.

Shares rose despite the weak outlook, however, after an upgrade from a Janney analyst. He said the company's problems are already reflected in the stock's value. Shares had dropped 12 percent over the past 52 weeks.

The stock added $1, or 2.2 percent, to $45.74 in late morning trading. That's still close to the low end of its 52-week trading range of $44.11 to $57.93.

"We believe a lot of the bad news about Darden is already in the stock," Janney's Mark Kalinowski said, particularly with Friday's outlook. "Today's news looks to us like a classic 'buy on bad news' opportunity."

He upgraded the stock to "Buy" from "Hold."