Olive Garden owner Darden warns on 3rd quarter

Weather, taxes, gas prices cited by Orlando-based company

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Olive Garden.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Darden Restaurants, struggling to draw more customers into its Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, predicts a third-quarter profit that is below Wall Street's expectations.

The Orlando, Fla.-based chain has tried to revamp menus and marketing for its flagship chains. But it said Friday that revenue at Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse locations open at least one year will fall 4.5 percent in the quarter ending Feb. 24, indicating those efforts have yet to pay off.

The company says severe winter weather along with higher payroll taxes for its customers and rising gas prices hurt sales.

Darden Restaurants Inc. says net income from continuing operations in the fiscal third quarter will be $1 to $1.02 per share, below analyst expectations of $1.12 per share.

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