Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Darden (DRI)

I'm not fond of many casual dining chains and that includes Red Lobster and Olive Garden which are operated by Darden (DHI). Even the Olive Garden tv ads have been ridiculous. The worst commercial featured an old Italian guy who received his U.S. citizenship and celebrated with the family at.... Olive Garden. Mama Mia. My wife is Italian and assured me that her 70 family members, or however many there are (compared to like 8 remaining Kingslands) would not go to Olive Garden.

I have noticed lately that it is very easy to drop $90, or more at a casual dining chain these days to feed me. my wife and three young children. Even at the non chain casual restaurants, food is expensive. My wife and I had lunch today at a great local restaurant and spent over $50. IF I really wanted to cut corners, I could go to the supermarket and spend $80 for at least a few nights worth of home cooked dinners.

After looking at Darden's numbers tonight, I get the feeling that folks are cutting back. How else to account for 4th quarter revenue of $1.46 bln vs estimates of $1.54 bln? Wow, close to a $100 mln shortfall vs estimates. That's a lot of Lobster dinners that went unserved. 4th quarter earnings amounted to 67c vs estimates of 71c. This is a big miss and DRI is down 5% after hours.

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