Panera Bread revenues climb 24% in quarter

by Eric Schroeder
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ST. LOUIS — Net revenues rose 24% at Panera Bread Co. in the first quarter ended March 27, the company announced on Wednesday. During the quarter, sales grew to $240 million from $194 million in the first quarter of 2006. Of that total, bakery-cafe sales accounted for $197 million while franchise royalties and fees and fresh dough sales to franchisees accounted for $43 million.

During the quarter, Panera said it opened 31 new bakery cafes, including 14 company-owned and 17 franchise-operated sites. The company also acquired four bakery cafes from a franchisee, while one company-owned bakery cafe was closed.

Panera, which will report full earnings on April 24, said it expects first-quarter earnings per share to be at or modestly below its previous target of 47c to 50c per share. Comparable bakery-cafe sales in the first quarter were lower than expected by approximately 1% due to extreme weather experienced in core markets, Panera said.

"Comparable bakery-cafe sales, which 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," Panera said.

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