Darden Restaurants stock was jumping in premarket trading Thursday after reporting better-than-expected earnings and sales, while increasing its dividend.
The parent company of Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, and other restaurants reported a fourth-quarter adjusted profit of $2.24 a share, beating forecasts for $2.21 a share, on sales of $2.6 billion, topping expectations for $2.54 billion.
For the next fiscal year, Darden (DRI) projects diluted net earnings per share between $7.40 and $8. The company also expects the growth in same-restaurant sales to slow down from 11.7% to 6%.
Darden also declared a quarterly dividend of $1.21 a share, and authorized a new $1 billion share buyback program.
The growth in earnings came despite inflation. "By adhering to our strategy, and pricing below inflation, we ended the year with significantly better margins than pre-COVID," said Darden CFO Raj Vennam.
Darden's shares have gained 3.7% premarket and slipped 18% this year.