>Darden Restaurants Reports Fourth Quarter and Annual Diluted Net Earnings Per Share; Increases Quarterly Dividend by 25 Percent

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>Fourth quarter sales from continuing operations were $1.98 billion, compared to $1.83 billion in the prior year, an 8% increase (14 weeks vs. 13 weeks). Combined same-restaurant sales for Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse were down 1.4% this quarter (13 weeks vs. 13 weeks). For the full year, fiscal 2009 sales from continuing operations were $7.22 billion, a 9% increase (53 weeks vs. 52 weeks) from the prior year’s $6.63 billion. Combined same-restaurant sales for Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse were down 1.4% in fiscal 2009 (52 weeks vs. 52 weeks), which compares to an estimated decline of 5.6% for the Knapp-Track(TM) benchmark of U.S. same-restaurant sales for casual dining chains, excluding Darden. Darden’s total sales increase reflects meaningful new unit growth at Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and Red Lobster as well as the benefit of an additional operating week in fiscal 2009. The additional operating week contributed approximately two percentage points of sales increase in fiscal 2009.

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