Darden Restaurants ( DRI) slumped 4% late Tuesday after its Red Lobster chain rang up a weak February. The Orlando, Fla., company posted a third-quarter profit of $105 million, or 67 cents a share, for the quarter ended Feb. 26, up from the year-ago $93 million, or 56 cents a share. The company said the latest quarter benefited to the tune of 6 cents a share from lower-than-expected taxes but was hit by a 4-cent charge over a legal dispute and a 3-cent impairment charge for some Smokey Bones restaurants. Excluding those items, latest-quarter earnings were 68 cents a share, 3 cents ahead of the Thomson Financial estimate. But revenue, which rose 7.1% from a year ago to $1.47 billion, came up shy of the $1.49 billion Wall Street analyst consensus. Darden cited the shift of Lent and Red Lobster's signature Lobsterfest into this year's fourth quarter for a soft 1.6% same-store sales gain at the seafood chain. The company said the timing cut 2 points from the quarter's same-store sales gain at Red Lobster. Results were particularly weak in February, when Red Lobster comps fell 7% to 8%, reflecting a 7% decrease in guest counts and a 1% decline in check average. Results were better at the Olive Garden, where U.S. same-restaurant sales grew 5.7% for the quarter. Darden said it now expects diluted net earnings per share growth to be at the top of its previously announced 15% to 20% growth range. "We again achieved solid operating performance improvement this quarter while also strengthening our foundation for future growth," said CEO Drew Madsen. "Olive Garden combined strong guest satisfaction with brand building promotions and took further steps to position their business for accelerated unit growth. Red Lobster guest satisfaction and restaurant level returns both improved versus prior year, providing a strong platform to support continued growth in guest traffic to historical levels. Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones also made progress executing their respective plans to broaden appeal and strengthen their business model. We are confident they are taking the appropriate action to fully realize their potential." Darden slipped $1.79 to $39.50.