New products fuel 34% earnings surge at Panera

by Eric Schroeder
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ST. LOUIS — New breakfast sandwiches, paninis and salads helped drive a 34% gain in earnings at Panera Bread Co. in the second quarter. Net income in the quarter ended June 28 was $35,710,000, equal to $1.20 per share on the common stock, up from $26,704,000, or 86c per share, in the same period a year ago. Total revenue during the second quarter totaled $451,080,000, up 19% from $378,124,000.

But sales from company-owned stores open at least a year rose only 4.4% during the second quarter, less than Panera’s own target of a 5% to 6% increase. This comparison is a key measure of a company’s financial health because it excludes stores that recently opened or closed. For franchise-operated bakery-cafes, the figure rose 3.6%.

For the first half of fiscal 2011, net income rose 30% to $68,484,000, or $2.29 per share, up from $52,549,000, or $1.69 per share, in the first half of fiscal 2010. Total revenues increased 18% to $873,180,000.

Panera said it expects to earn 92c to 94c per share in the third quarter, versus 75c in the third quarter of fiscal 2010. For the full year, Panera raised its 2011 full-year earnings-per-share guidance to $4.54 to $4.58, up from earlier guidance of $4.47 to $4.51.

During the second quarter, Panera and its franchisees opened 28 new bakery cafes, and acquired substantially all the assets and certain liabilities of 25 bakery cafes from its Milwaukee franchisee.

“We are pleased to deliver 39% earnings growth in the second quarter, marking the twelfth out of the last 13 quarters of 20% plus growth, a record we feel very proud of,” said Bill Moreton, chief executive officer. “We are also raising our full-year 2011 e.p.s. growth target to 25% to 26%, based on strong operating trends. Our sales in the second quarter were driven by strong transaction growth, fueled by our past and current investments in the quality of our food, operations and customer experience. Looking forward into 2012, we believe that these investments have set us up for another strong year.”

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