Vote on Yellen delayed to January

The Senate will vote on the nomination of Janet Yellen to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve in January.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday that Republicans and Democrats had worked out an agreement on votes for several of President Obama’s nominees, including Yellen.

The Senate plans a test vote to move ahead on Yellen’s nomination on Friday and will then vote Jan. 6 on her confirmation.

If confirmed, Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Fed and the first Democrat to do so since Paul Volcker stepped down in 1987. She would succeed Ben S. Bernanke, whose second four-year term as chairman will end Jan. 31.

— Associated Press

Darden to spin off
or sell Red Lobster

Darden Restaurants said Thursday that it will either spin off or sell Red Lobster, one of its oldest and biggest brands.

The Orlando-based company also said it plans to stop building new Olive Gardens and to slow down growth at LongHorn Steakhouse.

The announcement came as Darden reported weak second-quarter results. Profit plummeted to 15 cents per share — a 42.3 percent decrease from the previous year. Analysts had expected earnings of about 20 cents per share.

Red Lobster’s sales were down more than 4 percent during the second quarter, with guest counts declining 10 percent in October.

The company said it expects earnings per share for next year to drop 15 to 20 percent compared with this year. The company had previously predicted a 3 to 5 percent decline.

With 705 restaurants in the United States and Canada, Red Lobster generated $2.6 billion in sales last year, about a third of Darden’s total revenue. About 58,000 of Darden’s more than 200,000 employees work at Red Lobster.

Barington Capital Group, a New York hedge fund representing shareholders owning more than 2 percent of Darden’s stock, has been pushing for a spinoff of both Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Barington chief executive James Mitarotonda called Darden’s plan “incomplete and inadequate.”

— Orlando Sentinel

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