Panera Bread first-quarter earnings flat

by Eric Schroeder
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ST. LOUIS — Net income at Panera Bread Co. in the first quarter ended March 27 was $15,043,000, equal to 48c per share on the common stock, virtually unchanged from $15,013,000, or 48c, in the same quarter a year ago.

Panera said earnings per share were near the low end of the company’s previously provided target, primarily because of comparable bakery-cafe sales at the low end of the company’s original range and the impact on margins of extreme weather.

"The company estimates that its comparable bakery-cafe sales in the first quarter were lower than expected by approximately 1% due to extreme weather experienced in its largest markets," Panera said. "Comparable bakery-cafe sales that are lower as a result of weather have a significantly higher impact on earnings given the inability to rapidly reduce food and labor in the face of inclement weather."

Net sales for the first quarter were $239,676,000, up 24% from $193,971,000 in the same period a year ago.

During the first quarter, Panera said it purchased 51% of the outstanding stock of Paradise Bakery and Cafe, then owner and operator of 22 company-owned bakery cafes and 22 franchise-operated bakery cafes. Panera also opened 31 new bakery cafes system wide, acquired 4 bakery cafes from a franchise, and closed one company-owned bakery cafe.

As of March 27, there were 1,101 Panera Bread bakery cafes open, including 46 Paradise bakery cafes.

Looking ahead, Panera said it expects second-quarter earnings of 47c or 51c per share, assuming same-store sales growth is in a range of 3.5% to 4.5%.

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