Darden Restaurants Announces Expected Second Quarter Diluted Net Earnings Per Share and Revises Fiscal Year 2013 Earnings

Darden Restaurants Announces Expected Second Quarter Diluted Net Earnings Per
             Share and Revises Fiscal Year 2013 Earnings Outlook

PR Newswire

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 4, 2012

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:
DRI) today reported that it expects diluted net earnings per share from
continuing operations of approximately 25 to 26 cents for its fiscal second
quarter ended November 25, 2012. The Company reported that it anticipates the
transaction and closing costs associated with the purchase of Yard House, USA
Inc. will adversely affect diluted net earnings per share from continuing
operations for its fiscal second quarter by approximately five cents.
Additionally, the Company reported that Hurricane Sandy adversely affected
diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations for its fiscal
second quarter by approximately one cent. 

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The Company also reported that it anticipates combined U.S. same-restaurant
sales for the second quarter to be approximately -2.7% for Red Lobster, Olive
Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the quarter
of +0.7% for its Specialty Restaurant Group. Darden estimates U.S.
same-restaurant sales for the second quarter will be approximately -0.8%,
-2.7%and -3.2% for LongHorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster and Olive Garden,
respectively. Darden expects to release final fiscal second quarter sales and
earnings results on Thursday, December 20, 2012, before the market opens.

Darden also provided updated sales and earnings expectations for fiscal year
2013. The Company anticipates total sales growth of between +7.5% and +8.5%
for the year based upon combined U.S. same-restaurant sales of approximately
-1.0% to flat for Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse,
incremental sales starting in fiscal September from the acquisition of Yard
House,and the opening of approximately 100 net new restaurants in fiscal
2013, not including the initial 40 Yard House restaurants operating at the
close of the acquisition. And, the Company expects diluted net earnings per
share from continuing operations of $3.29 to $3.49 for fiscal 2013, which
includes approximately 8 to 10 cents of transaction and closing costs
associated with the purchase of Yard House USA, Inc. 

"Our second quarter is an especially value sensitive time of year, and this
year's promotional offers were largely consistent in nature with what we've
promoted successfully in the past," said Clarence Otis, Darden's Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer. "These promotions did not resonate with financially
stretched consumers as well as newer promotions from competitors. Our
disappointing results for the quarter point to the need for bolder changes in
the promotional approach at our three large brands. So, we are retooling the
promotional calendars at Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse for
the balance of the year to ensure they better fit consumers' current financial
realities and expectations."

"In light of these upcoming changes, we are being cautious about our sales and
earnings forecast for the full year," Otis continued. "Our outlook for the
year also reflects the potential impact, though difficult to measure, of
recent negative media coverage that focused on Darden within the full-service
segment and how we might accommodate healthcare reform."

"Beyond promotional adjustments, we have been working more comprehensively
within specific brands and across the Company to enhance our core menus,
service delivery, building design and advertising and we are confident these
improvements will enable us to respond successfully to important long-term
consumer shifts," added Mr. Otis. "We are also committed to accommodating
healthcare reform in ways that work for our employees and guests. Darden is a
strong business which continues to generate solid cash flows that will support
appropriate reinvestment in our brands, effective debt management and
consistent dividend growth."

Preliminary Fiscal 2013 September, October and November U.S. Same-Restaurant
Sales Results

Darden reported preliminary U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal months
of September, October and November as follows:

Olive Garden            September October November*
Same-Restaurant Sales   -3.8%     -3.9%   -2.0%
Same-Restaurant Traffic -7.5%     -8.2%   -4.8%
Pricing                 2.0%      2.3%    2.4%
Menu-mix                1.8%      2.0%    0.4%


                        September October November*
Red Lobster
Same-Restaurant Sales   0.4%      -7.0%   -2.8%
Same-Restaurant Traffic 1.3%      -6.1%   -3.3%
Pricing                 1.3%      1.3%    1.2%
Menu-mix                -2.2%     -2.2%   -0.7%


                        September October November*
LongHorn Steakhouse
Same-Restaurant Sales   -1.1%     -0.1%   -1.3%
Same-Restaurant Traffic -1.0%     -0.2%   -0.2%
Pricing                 2.0%      2.0%    1.9%
Menu-mix                -2.1%     -1.9%   -3.0%



* Note: Same-restaurant sales results in November were adversely affected by
approximately 60 and 20 basis points in November and the full second quarter,
respectively, due to Hurricane Sandy which caused approximately 475 days of
restaurant closures.

Darden Restaurants, Inc., (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service
restaurant company, owns and operates more than 2,000 restaurants that
generate $8.0 billion in annual sales. Headquartered in Orlando, Florida and
employing more than 185,000 people, Darden is recognized for a culture that
rewards caring for and responding to people. In 2012, Darden was named to the
FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the second year in a row.
Our restaurant brands - Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The
Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, Eddie V's and Yard House - reflect
the rich diversity of those who dine with us. Our brands are built on deep
insights into what our guests want. For more information, please visit
www.darden.com.

Forward-looking statements in this news release regarding our expected
earnings per share and U.S. same-restaurant sales for the fiscal year, new
restaurant growth and all other statements that are not historical facts,
including without limitation statements concerning our future economic
performance, plans or objectives, are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of
the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any forward-looking
statements speak only as of the date on which such statements are made, and we
undertake no obligation to update such statements to reflect events or
circumstances arising after such date. We wish to caution investors not to
place undue reliance on any such forward-looking statements. By their nature,
forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause
actual results to materially differ from those anticipated in the statements.
The most significant of these uncertainties are described in Darden's Form
10-K, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K reports (including all amendments to those
reports). These risks and uncertainties include food safety and food-borne
illness concerns, litigation, unfavorable publicity, risks relating to public
policy changes and federal, state and local regulation of our business
including health care reform, labor and insurance costs, technology failures,
failure to execute a business continuity plan following a disaster, health
concerns including virus outbreaks, intense competition, failure to drive
sales growth, failure to successfully integrate the Yard House business and
the additional indebtedness incurred to finance the Yard House acquisition,
our plans to expand our newer brands like Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie
V's, a lack of suitable new restaurant locations, higher-than-anticipated
costs to open, close or remodel restaurants, a failure to execute innovative
marketing tactics and increased advertising and marketing costs, a failure to
develop and recruit effective leaders, a failure to address cost pressures,
shortages or interruptions in the delivery of food and other products, adverse
weather conditions and natural disasters, volatility in the market value of
derivatives, economic factors specific to the restaurant industry and general
macroeconomic factors including unemployment and interest rates, disruptions
in the financial markets, risks of doing business with franchisees and vendors
in foreign markets, failure to protect our service marks or other intellectual
property, a possible impairment in the carrying value of our goodwill or other
intangible assets, a failure of our internal controls over financial
reporting, or changes in accounting standards, and other factors and
uncertainties discussed from time to time in reports filed by Darden with the
Securities and Exchange Commission.

SOURCE Darden Restaurants, Inc.: Financial

Website: http://www.darden.com
Contact: Matthew Stroud (Analysts), +1-407-245-6458; or Rich Jeffers (Media),
+1-407-245-4189