Olive Garden parent’s earnings miss estimates, company lowers fiscal 2022 outlook

An Olive Garden restaurant in Times Square in New York.

Richard Levine | Corbis | Getty Images

Darden Restaurants on Thursday reported quarterly earnings and revenue that missed analysts’ expectations as the omicron variant of Covid-19 led to disappointing sales for Olive Garden.

The company also lowered its earnings outlook for fiscal 2022.

Darden shares fell as much as 3% in premarket trading.

Outgoing CEO Gene Lee said in a statement that the company saw record sales in December, before omicron disrupted customer traffic, staffing levels and its operating expenses the following month. However, Darden’s restaurants began recovering from the downturn by February, the company said.

Olive Garden, which accounts for roughly half of Darden’s revenue, reported same-store sales growth of 29.9%, missing StreetAccount estimates of 36.7%.

Here’s what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $1.93 vs. $2.10 expected
  • Revenue: $2.45 billion vs. $2.51 billion expected

The restaurant company reported fiscal third-quarter net income of $247 million, or $1.93 per share, up from $128.7 million, or 98 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting earnings per share of $2.10.

Net sales rose 41.3% to $2.45 billion, falling short of expectations of $2.51 billion. Across all of Darden’s restaurant chains, same-store sales climbed 38.1%. Wall Street was expecting total same-store sales growth of 43.5%, according to StreetAccount estimates. A year ago, Darden’s same-store sales shrank by 26.7%.

Darden’s fine-dining business also disappointed, despite reporting same-store sales growth of 85.8%. The segment includes chains like The Capital Grille and was the hardest hit by the pandemic. Analysts were expecting same-store sales growth of 91.1%.

LongHorn SteakHouse saw its same-store sales rise 31.6% in the quarter. The chain’s sales bounced back faster than Olive Garden after building a strong takeout business earlier in the pandemic, but it only accounts for about a quarter of Darden’s revenue.

After raising its earnings forecast last quarter, Darden lowered it on Thursday. The company is now expecting fiscal 2022 earnings per share from continuing operations of $7.30 to $7.45, down from its prior outlook of $7.35 to $7.60.

The company also narrowed its fiscal 2022 revenue outlook. Its sales forecast is now $9.55 billion to $9.62 billion, compared with its prior range of $9.55 billion to $9.7 billion.

Read the full earnings report here.