Darden: Ricardo Cardenas To Succeed Eugene I. Lee Jr. As CEO; Updates FY22 Guidance

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) announced that Eugene I. Lee, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will retire as CEO effective May 29, 2022. The Board has elected Ricardo Cardenas, current President and Chief Operating Officer, as Chief Executive Officer, and a member of the Board effective May 30, 2022. The company noted that Lee will continue to serve on Darden’s Board as Executive Chairman until the 2022 Annual Meeting. At that time, Lee is expected to stand for re-election to the Board and continue to serve as Chairman in a non-executive capacity.

Separately, Darden Restaurants reported second-quarter earnings per share from continuing operations of $1.48 compared to $0.74, prior year. On average, 24 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report profit per share of $1.43, for the quarter. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items. Net profit from continuing operations was $193.4 million compared to $96.9 million.

Total sales increased 37% to $2.27 billion driven by a blended same-restaurant sales increase of 34.4% and the addition of 34 net new restaurants. Analysts on average had estimated $2.23 billion in revenue.

For fiscal 2022, the company now expects: net earnings per share from continuing operations of $7.35 to $7.60; total sales of approximately $9.55 to $9.70 billion; and same-restaurant sales of 29% to 31%. In September, the company projected: net earnings per share from continuing operations of $7.25 to $7.60; total sales of approximately $9.4 to $9.6 billion; and same-restaurant sales of 27% to 30%.

Analysts expect the company to report profit per share of $7.61 on revenue of $9.54 billion. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items.

Darden’s Board declared a quarterly cash dividend of $1.10 per share on outstanding common stock. The dividend is payable on February 1, 2022 to shareholders of record at the close of business on January 10, 2022.

Shares of Darden Restaurants were down 3% in pre-market trade on Friday.

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