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Panera's 4Q earnings increase 5.8%

Panera Bread Co. on Tuesday said profit increased 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter after special charges, and same-store sales rose at both its corporate-owned and franchised locations.

The 1,541-unit St. Louis, Mo.-based bakery-café chain said earnings for the quarter ended Dec. 27, 2011, rose to $38.6 million, or $1.31 per share, up from $36.5 million, or $1.21 per share, in the prior-year period.

Revenue was up 15.8 percent, to $495.8 million from $428.2 in the year-ago quarter.

The company said same-store sales increased 5.9 percent in the quarter at company-owned restaurants and 3.2 percent at franchised units.

For fiscal 2011, the company said it saw systemwide new-unit average weekly sales rise to a new high of $41,416, surpassing a record set in fiscal 2010.

Panera also said it was in the process of acquiring back from a franchisee the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., market for $48 million, a deal expected to close by the end of the first quarter.

Panera’s earnings for the quarter reflected a $5 million charge for the proposed settlement of an employment legal matter in California, the company said. That proposed settlement was related to breaks and meal periods for employees in the state.

During the fourth quarter, Panera said it opened 24 new bakery-cafés and its franchisees opened 16 restaurants. That brought Panera’s total to 1,541 units as of Dec. 27.

RELATED: Panera eyes urban locations

Panera also said Jeff Kip, chief financial officer for the past six years and executive vice president, would be leaving the company March 15 to join IAC/InterActiveCorp. A search for his replacement is underway.

Panera operates restaurants under the Panera Bread, St. Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Café brands.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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