>New Restaurants Lift Darden Profits

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>Darden Restaurants Inc.’s fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 24% on new-restaurant growth and moderate gains at existing locations for its casual-dining chains.
However, the company’s lead over competitors seemed to narrow. Through the close, the stock has risen 44% since the beginning of the year. Earlier this month, it hit its highest level ever.
The owner of the Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse chains said its consolidated same-restaurant sales increased 1.4% in the most recent period, compared with a 1% increase in the benchmark Knapp-Track index. It had led the index by 1.1 percentage points in the previous quarter.

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