Darden Restaurants shares rise on 3Q earnings

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Shares in Darden Restaurants jumped on Thursday after the company raised its outlook and posted earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street estimates.The owner of Olive Garden and other chain restaurants reported fiscal third-quarter profit of $223.6 million, beating expectations and the $217.8 million in profits for the same quarter last year.Another strong showing from its anchor brands has Darden raising its full-year earnings expectations to $5.76 to $5.80 per share, from the previous guidance of between $5.60 and $5.70 per share.Same-restaurant sales for Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, which make up nearly 80 per cent of Darden’s restaurants, increased 4.3 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively, during the quarter. The metric is a key indicator of a restaurant’s health as it strips out the impact of locations that have opened or closed in the past year.On a per-share basis, the Orlando, Florida-based company said it had net income of $1.79. Earnings, adjusted to exclude discontinued operations, came to $1.80 per share.The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.75 per share. Darden’s earnings per share for last year’s third quarter were $1.73.The company posted revenue of $2.25 billion in the period, topping last year’s quarter of $2.13 billion as well as Street forecasts. Nine analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.24 billion.Darden shares rose more 6 per centper cent in early trading. They’ve increased more than 15 per cent since the beginning of the year and about 23 per cent in the past 12 months._____Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on DRI at https://www.zacks.com/ap/DRIThe Associated Press read more

Canadian dollar is sinking before Janet Yellen even takes the stand

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TORONTO — The Canadian dollar was lower Tuesday as the American currency strengthened ahead of the first of two days of testimony from U.S. Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen. The loonie declined 0.4 of a U.S. cent 79.12 cents US.Yellen will update Congress on the economy and monetary policy. Traders also looked for any indication of when the central bank might move on raising interest rates. There has been much speculation the bank could move on rates as early as June.Stephen Poloz will also speak today at 2 p.m. and if trader perceive a dovish tone from the Bank of Canada Governor it could push the loonie down further.Has the Canadian dollar’s unprecedented crash hit bottom? David Rosenberg thinks soTumbling Canadian dollar? Blame the economy, not the Bank of Canada, says Stephen PolozOn the economic calendar, investors were set to digest the latest reading on American consumer confidence. The U.S. Conference Board’s index is expected to step back to 99 versus 102.9 last month.Oil prices ticked higher after four days of losses triggered by data last week showing significant buildups in U.S. crude inventories to 80-year highs. On Tuesday, the April crude contract gained 21 cents to US$49.66 a barrel.Metals were mixed with March copper up three cents to US$2.63 a pound while April gold faded $1.90 to Us$1,198.90 an ounce.Meanwhile, Greece’s left-wing government will deliver a list of reforms Tuesday to debt inspectors for final approval of extended rescue loans. Greece and its bailout creditors reached a tentative agreement last week to extend a rescue loan program by four months to avoid the risk of a Greek default and exit from the euro currency. The reforms are expected to include tax evasion curbs, corruption, smuggling and excessive bureaucracy as well as poverty caused by a six-year recession. read more

Transat CEO says Paris attacks have chilled bookings but effect will be

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Transat CEO says Paris attacks have chilled bookings but effect will be temporary MONTREAL – Last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris have caused a chill in travel from Canada to the French capital but the impact is expected to be temporary, tour operator Transat AT said Thursday.“It’s normal but we don’t see that (continuing),” Transat CEO Jean-Marc Eustache told analysts on a conference call.Eustache referred to a much greater chill after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States that caused the airline to ground 25 per cent of its aircraft, reduce and cut salaries.“It was the worst that had ever happened in the world and (within six months) I was hiring everybody back,” Eustache said.Transat declined to provide details about the size of the sales decline since the Nov. 13 co-ordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 and injured hundreds more.But it said the decline in bookings has mostly affected flights before Christmas. Bookings for flights early in the new year and for the coming summer are running ahead of last year.Air Canada said its flights between Canada and Paris are full over the holiday period but that some customers may have chosen to defer travel plans because of the terrorist attacks.Before the Paris attacks, Transat (TSX:TRZ) posted a strong summer season, earning $69.1 million in the three months ended Oct. 31, up from $30.6 million a year ago.Excluding the impact of fuel-hedging, restructuring and asset impairments, Transat earned $54.8 million or $1.44 per diluted share. That was up from $49.4 million or $1.27 per share a year earlier and above analyst estimates of $1.23.Revenues decreased 0.6 per cent to $839.2 million, as lower fuel costs triggered a decline in average selling prices.“Our summer results at a time when global capacity was up seven per cent on the transatlantic market are the second-best we ever recorded and are part of Top 5 summer results all achieved in the in last six years,” chief financial officer Denis Petrin said.For the full year ended Oct. 31, adjusted profits fell five per cent to $42.9 million or $1.11 per diluted share as revenues decreased about $200 million to $3.6 billion.The company said it is hoping to improve its financial performance in the upcoming winter season, which runs until the end of April, after several years of losses, even as it expects operating costs to rise four per cent as the weaker Canadian dollar more than offsets the benefit from lower fuel costs.Sales of packages to Transat’s large market in Cuba are holding up even though Cuban hotels have tied their prices to the U.S. dollar, resulting in increases of up to 15 per cent for Canadians because of the loonie’s depreciation.Transat’s top three markets — Mexico, Dominican Republic and Cuba — account for 90 per cent of its traffic over the winter. by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Dec 10, 2015 6:17 am MDT Last Updated Dec 10, 2015 at 3:23 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more