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Darden 3Q profit falls but tops Street's view

Mar. 22, 2013 @ 10:15 PM

NEW YORK -- Darden Restaurants' third-quarter net income dropped 18 percent, as it dealt with soft sales at Red Lobster but the performance still beat Wall Street's expectations.

The Orlando, Fla., company said Friday that sales at its Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants open at least a year fell a combined 4.6 percent.

This figure is a key gauge of a restaurant operator's performance because it excludes results at store recently opened or closed.

For the three months ended Feb. 24, Darden earned $134.4 million, or $1.02 per share. That's down from $164.1 million, or $1.25 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.01 per share.

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