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Darden’s comps up 3.4%

Darden Restaurants saw sales grow at a faster clip than expected during its most recent quarter, bolstered by a 2.7 percent comps gain at marquee brand Olive Garden.

Same-store sales at Darden concepts grew 3.4 percent year over year during the first quarter of fiscal 2016, the company said. Total sales grew 5.7 percent year over year, to $1.69 billion.

Darden’s six other brands also saw Q1 growth; comp sales rose 4.4 percent at LongHorn Steakhouse, 7.2 percent at The Capital Grille and 3.4 percent at Yard House.

“Our brands performed well in the first quarter, building on the momentum from last year," said Darden CEO Gene Lee. "We continue to make progress on our operating fundamentals of culinary innovation, attentive service and engaging atmospheres while continuing to focus on disciplined cost management. This progress is a direct result of our hard work and commitment to creating memorable guest experiences in our restaurants.”

The company’s net earnings fell 83 percent year over year, from $503.2 million to $86.4 million, which includes any gains on the sale of discontinued operations, Darden said.

Earlier this year, Darden announced that it would spin off a portion of its restaurant properties into a real estate investment trust, Four Corners, as part of a debt-repayment plan. The company is in the process of executing sale-leaseback transactions on an additional set of properties. 

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