Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants’ stock edged up 0.6 percent Tuesday after the company reported higher sales and earnings for its latest quarter.
The Orlando, Florida-based company, which operates more than 800 Olive Gardens and nearly 500 LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants nationwide, said sales at its existing Olive Garden locations rose 2 percent in the quarter from a year ago and rose 1.3 percent across all its restaurant brands. Earnings per share rose nearly 30 percent.
The increase at Olive Garden was driven by higher prices and a mix of more expensive items, while customer traffic slipped. Darden CEO Gene Lee noted the saturated restaurant market in the U.S. and newer competition from nontraditional businesses.
Given the changing landscape, Darden has been working on improving the in-restaurant experience, as well as growing its online ordering business. Lee said the company has identified “convenience as a huge opportunity.”