BUZZ-Darden Restaurants Inc: Set to open at 4-month high

Tue Oct 4, 2016 8:38am EDT
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** Olive Garden owner's shares set to open at 4-month high after Q1 profit handily beats estimates, helped by lower food costs and higher prices

** Shares up 4.3 pct at $64.00 premarket

** Q1 profit of 87 cents/share beats average analyst estimate of 82 cents

** Food and beverage costs fall by 2 pct in Q1, helped by falling prices of some raw materials

** Wheat, beef and chicken prices fell 6-30 pct in August from a year earlier, Piper Jaffray analyst Nicole Regan writes in a note

** Co also benefits from higher dish prices at its biggest unit, Olive Garden

** Authorizes new $500 mln share buyback program

** Up to Monday's close, Darden shares had fallen 3.6 pct this year, wider than the 1.1 pct fall in S&P composite restaurant index