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Darden Restaurants Posts Loss on Smokey Bones Charge

Darden Restaurants posted a loss in the fourth quarter, citing charges related to the sale of Smokey Bones restaurants.

The Orlando, Fla.-based company reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $55.1 million, or 38 cents a share, due primarily to a $245 million charge related to the closure of 65 restaurants.

In May, Darden shuttered 54 Smokey Bones restaurants and announced plans to sell the 73 remaining restaurants.

The company, which runs the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurant chains, reported earnings of 67 cents a share, excluding the one-time charge related to Smokey Bones,

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of 70 cents a share on sales of $1.57 billion. In the year-ago quarter, Darden posted earnings of 60 cents a share on sales of $1.51 billion.

Darden shares fell 5% in after-hours trading Tuesday.

The company also said it expects fiscal 2008 earnings growth in a range of 10% to 12%, compared with analysts' current forecast of 13%.

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