Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of bakery-cafe operator Panera Bread
So what: During earnings season, Mr. Market usually keeps it pretty simple. Report results that match analysts' expectations, and he shrugs. Top them, and he gets excited. Top them and raise guidance, and he loves you. Today, Panera found itself in that last camp, as it announced great third-quarter earnings and upped its outlook.
For the quarter, Panera notched $0.97 in earnings per share versus the Wall Street expectation of $0.94. Revenue clocked in at $453 million, which also beat the $447 million target. Compared with last year, revenue was up 22%, diluted EPS gained 29%, and company-owned comparable-store sales managed a 6% increase.
Now what: What may really be making investors smile, however, is Panera's outlook. Expecting a nice boost from share buybacks, the company raised its full-year earnings-per-share target to a range of $4.63 to $4.65 -- a range that suggests year-over-year growth of 28%. Analysts had been estimating per-share profit of $4.58 for the full year.
Panera is undoubtedly growing nicely and showing that it has the chops to stare down the consumer-led recession. Some of my fellow Fools are big fans of the stock, but with shares trading at 29 times the midpoint of the company's 2011 EPS forecast, it looks a bit less than appetizing to me right now.
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