What happened

Shares of Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) climbed 6.7% Tuesday after the company announced stronger-than-expected quarterly results. 

More specifically, for the second quarter of its fiscal 2018, Darden's revenue a climbed 14.6% year over year to $1.88 billion -- comfortably above the $1.85 billion investors were anticipating -- including 11.5% growth related to its acquisition of Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen earlier this year, and a 3.1% increase in blended same-restaurant sales from Darden's legacy brands.

On the bottom line, that translated to 14.1% growth in adjusted (non-GAAP) earnings per diluted share to $0.73, above analysts' consensus estimates for adjusted earnings of $0.70 per share.

Olive Garden restaurant exterior from front

IMAGE SOURCE: DARDEN RESTAURANTS

So what

Darden CEO Gene Lee stated:

Our strong same-restaurant sales and new restaurant growth drove continued market share gains during the quarter. That performance, in addition to our solid earnings growth, is a result of executing on our strategy. Our teams are building guest loyalty at all of our brands through their constant focus on our back-to-basics operating philosophy, which is grounded in food, service and atmosphere.

To be sure, within its legacy brands, Darden enjoyed same-restaurant sales growth of 3% at Olive Garden, 3.8% at LongHorn Steakhouse, 3.8% at The Capital Grille, 6.8% at Eddie V's, 2% at Yard House, and 2.5% at Bahama Breeze. Only its smaller Seasons 52 chain (with 41 locations) saw same-store sales dip, and even then, it was a modest 0.5% decline.

Now what

If that wasn't enough, Darden also increased its expectations for the full fiscal year 2018, calling for same-restaurant sales growth of 2%, new restaurant openings of 40, and total sales growth of 13% -- all near the high end of previous guidance. Management also anticipates full-year adjusted earnings per diluted share in the range of $4.45 to $4.53, up from its prior outlook range of $4.38 to $4.50.

All things considered, there was nothing to dislike about Darden's admirable performance today, and it's no surprise to see shares setting a fresh 52-week high in response.

Steve Symington has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.