LOS ANGELES, March 5 Darden Restaurants Inc
has canceled its analyst and investor meeting slated for
later this month as two activist shareholders lobby for bolder
steps to improve performance at its restaurant chains, ranging
from Olive Garden to Capital Grille.
Rather than holding the meeting, which was scheduled for
March 28, Darden, the biggest operator of full-service
restaurant chains in terms of outlets, will meet individually
with analysts and investors, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
"We're taking it on the road," the spokesman, Rich Jeffers,
said. "We're reaching out to everyone who was planning to
Barington Capital Group LP has been pushing Darden to put
its more-mature Olive Garden and Red Lobster brands into one
company, and its higher-growth chains, including LongHorn
Steakhouse and Capital Grille, into another.
It also wants the company to create a publicly traded real
estate investment trust (REIT) to unlock the value of its
On Monday Darden reiterated its plan to spin off or sell Red
Lobster seafood chain, rebuffing Barington and Starboard Value
LP, another activist investor pressuring Darden to rethink its
plans for the Red Lobster.
Starboard, which owns 5.5 percent of Darden shares, said in
late February that the plan to spin off Red Lobster should be
delayed and put to a shareholder vote. Barington, which has a
stake of about 2 percent, said it agreed.
Darden shares fell nearly 1 percent to $48.18, not far from
a 52-week low of $44.78.