Darden Earnings Beat Estimates by a Penny

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A plethora of earnings reports and warnings highlights this evening's update as the heart of the reporting season approaches (earnings estimates from

First Call

):

Darden Restaurants

(DRI) - Get Report

reported first-quarter earnings of 16 cents per share, a penny better than the 14-analyst consensus estimate and up from the year-ago 13 cents. The company said same-store sales at its

Red Lobster

chain rose 1.8% in the quarter, giving the seafood purveyor its first quarter of positive same-store sales in more than two years. Bonus fun fact: Readers of a local San Diego magazine once voted Red Lobster the city's best seafood restaurant.

The

Securities and Exchange Commission

said it filed a complaint against seven individuals who traded in

Cephalon

(CEPH)

stock in 1995. Cephalon said it is not a party to the complaint and has cooperated fully with the SEC in the investigation.

IDT

(IDTC)

reported fourth-quarter earnings of 4 cents per share, missing the two-analyst view by a cent but beating the year-ago loss of 21 cents.

Consolidated Papers

(CDP)

said it expects to report third-quarter earnings of about 55 cents per share, far short of the 13-analyst forecast of 78 cents. The company earned 90 cents in the year-earlier quarter. Consolidated said it was hurt by start-up difficulties after planned maintenance shutdowns, and by lightning strikes during severe late-summer thunderstorms.

American Home Products

(AHP)

will pay

Immunex

(IMNX)

up to $100 million in milestone payments in a promotional deal for the rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel.

Kirby

(KEX) - Get Report

said it expects to report third-quarter earnings of 24 cents to 26 cents per share because of a depressed product tanker market and other factors. The five-analyst expectation was 33 cents versus the year-ago 28 cents.

TechForce

(TFRC)

said it expects to report third-quarter and full-year earnings below analysts' estimates. For the third quarter, the two-analyst outlook called for 11 cents per share versus the year-earlier 10 cents. The full-year forecast called for 48 cents versus 34 cents in 1996.

Crown Books

(CRWN)

, in the midst of a restructuring, fired President and CEO Steve Stevens. The company said it will seek a "dynamic and experienced" new CEO.

Hudson Chartered Bancorp

(HCK)

set a 3-for-2 stock split and upped its dividend a penny to 19 cents.

Cedar Fair LP

(FUN) - Get Report

set a 2-for-1 split of its limited partnership units and increased the quarterly cash distribution to 64 cents per unit from 62.5 cents.