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Panera sales, profit surge in 4Q

Panera Bread Co. reported Thursday a 23-percent increase in fourth quarter profit, as sales surged on increased traffic and higher menu prices.

For the quarter ended Dec. 28, Panera booked earnings of $37 million, or $1.21 per share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $30 million, or 95 cents a share. Total revenue rose 17 percent to $428.2 million. Panera owns or franchises 1,453 bakery-cafes. Its systemwide same-store sales increased 5.8 percent for the fourth quarter.

Panera said same-store bakery-cafe sales at corporate restaurants increases 5.2 percent in the fourth quarter, reflecting transaction growth of 2.9 percent and average check growth of 2.3 percent. The growth in average check, the company said, was based on menu price increases of about 2 percent and a menu mix impact of 0.3 percent.

In addition, Panera noted that average weekly sales for new corporate restaurants reached the highest in company history, hitting $40,808 in 2010, from $37,618 in 2009.

For the year, Panera reported a 30-percent increase in profit to $111.9 million, or $3.62 per share, from $86.1 million, or $2.78, in 2009. Latest-year revenues rose 14 percent to $1.54 billion.

For the full fiscal year 2010, the company opened 42 new bakery-cafes and its franchisees opened 34 bakery-cafes.

In guidance for the year ahead, the company said it expected to open between 95 and 105 new units. Panera also raised its target for fiscal 2011 earnings per share to between $4.40 and $4.45, a 22-percent to 23-percent increase over 2010.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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