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Panera stock skyrockets amid sale rumors

Bloomberg reports bakery-café chain exploring options

Panera Bread Co.’s share price skyrocketed Monday after news reports that the bakery-café chain was exploring strategic options, including a possible sale. 

 

Bloomberg, citing “people with knowledge of the matter,” reported potential Panera suitors could include JAB Holding Co., Starbucks Corp. and Domino’s Pizza Inc.

David Tarantino, an analyst with Baird Equity Research, issued a note Monday that said, “ If a transaction were to occur in the near term, we would suspect a strategic bidder looking for exposure to the fast-casual segment would be the most logical scenario. 

“Potential bidders theoretically could include larger publicly traded restaurant companies, such as Yum! Brands, Restaurants Brands International (QSR), or possibly others,” Tarantino said. 

The bakery café brand “may be considered an attractive asset for certain private bidders, including Joh A. Benckiser (JAB), who has a history of paying high valuation multiples for acquisition targets within the restaurants sector,” Tarantino added.

Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s “Mad Money” and co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” cited Starbucks in his speculation.

Panera is to report its fiscal first quarter earnings on April 25. 

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 27, Panera reported net income was up 2 percent to $44 million, or $1.92 a share, compare to $43.2 million, or $1.74 a share, in the same period last year. Revenues were up 5.1 percent to $727.1 million from $691.8 million a year ago.

As of Dec. 27, Panera had 2,036 bakery-cafes in 46 states and Ontario, Canada, under the names Panera Bread, St. Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe.

Michael Bufano, Panera chief financial officer, said in a statement: “As a matter of policy, we never comment on rumors or speculation.”

Update: April 3, 2017 This story has been updated to with Panera’s market close numbers.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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