Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) on Thursday reported that its fiscal fourth quarter same-store sales nearly returned to 2019 levels as states rolled back dining restrictions.
The company also released an outlook for fiscal 2022, predicting that that its total sales for the year will top pre-pandemic revenue.
The Olive Garden parent reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $369 million, or $2.79 per share, up from a loss of $479.7 million, or $3.85 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, Darden earned $2.03 per share, beating the $1.79 per share expected by analysts.
Net sales rose 79.5% to $2.28 billion, topping expectations of $2.19 billion. Across the company’s portfolio, same-store sales rose 90.4% compared with the same quarter a year ago and fell just 0.5% compared with the period two years before.
For fiscal 2022, Darden expects total sales of $9.2 billion to $9.5 billion, up 5% to 8% from pre-pandemic levels, assuming that essentially all of its locations can operate at full capacity.
The company is forecasting same-store sales growth of 25% to 29%, compared with fiscal 2021. It also said it expects diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations in a range of $7 to $7.50.
The forecast is in line with Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts were predicting fiscal 2022 earnings of $7.21 per share on revenue of $9.22 billion.
DRI shares gained $3.30, or 2.4%, to $138.75.