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Sept 21 (Reuters) - Darden Restaurants Inc said new value promotions at its Olive Garden chain, which generates almost half of its revenue, had helped its quarterly earnings, and the company stood by its sales and profit forecast for the year.
Orlando, Florida-based Darden said on Friday that net income in the first quarter ended on Aug. 26 had risen to $110.8 million, or 85 cents per share, from $106.6 million, or 78 cents per share, a year earlier.
Over the summer, Olive Garden ran a "two for $25 Italian dinner" promotion that offered unlimited soup or salad, two entrees and the choice of either an appetizer or dessert. Darden, whose other chains include Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse, also benefited from a year-over-year decline in seafood costs that helped offset a significant spike in the cost of beef.
Darden said it still expected total sales growth of 9 percent to 10 percent this year. It anticipates growth of 5 percent to 9 percent in net earnings per share from continuing operations, including acquisition-related costs and purchase accounting adjustments of about 7 cents to 10 cents per share.