The publicly-traded local firm reported first-quarter profit of$56.9 million on sales of $1.02 billion. That performance is upfrom $47.3 million in net earnings on $929.4 million in sales forfirst quarter 1999.

The company's per-diluted share earnings were a record 46 cents,up from 35 cents in the same period last year. Darden operates theRed Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones BBQchains.

Olive Garden posted a same-restaurant sales growth of 8.7%, its24th consecutive quarter of growth. Red Lobster had a 6.2%same-restaurant growth for the 11th straight quarter. Bahama Breezeand Smokey Bones individual sales are still being compiled.

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