Darden Restaurants has reported net earnings of $312.9m in the third quarter (Q3) of fiscal 2024, compared with $286.6m a year previously.

Its operating income in Q3 2024 was $387.4m, up from $349.9m in Q3 2023.

The company’s total sales increased 6.8% year-on-year, reaching $3bn.

This growth was attributed to the addition of 79 company-owned Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurants and 53 net new others.

But the company’s total same-restaurant sales dipped 1% in the quarter, hit by a sales decrease in all its restaurant segments other than LongHorn Steakhouse.

In the reported quarter, Darden bought back around 0.2 million shares of its common stock, investing almost $33m.

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The company’s board has also greenlighted a new share repurchase programme, enabling the buyback of $1bn of its outstanding common stock.

The board announced a quarterly cash dividend of $1.31 per share on the company’s outstanding common stock.

In fiscal 2024, the company forecasts its adjusted diluted net earnings per share from continuing operations to be between $8.80 and $8.90.

It projects total sales of $11.4bn, same-restaurant sales growth of between 1.5% and 2% and total capital spending of $600m in the fiscal year 2024.  

Darden president and CEO Rick Cardenas said: “I am proud of our teams and the way they performed this quarter.

“Each one of our segments grew sales and profit in an operating environment that was tougher than we anticipated, and we continued to outperform industry same-restaurant sales and traffic.

“Looking ahead, our focus remains on controlling what we can control, leveraging and strengthening our competitive advantages, and executing our back-to-basics operating philosophy in order to effectively manage the business for the long-term.”