The theme for Panera's (NASDAQ:PNRA) Friday conference call -- to discuss Q4 and FY 2005 results -- was "more of the same." The company again saw more than 30% growth in revenues, impressive same-store sales, and a whole lot of new stores. The spectacular year puts to rest any beliefs that low-carb diets would be the company's downfall.

The only less-than-impressive number I could find was the $0.51 in diluted EPS for Q4, posting a 13% year-over-year increase, which might in some part explain Friday's drop. In fairness, though, the company had already forecasted diluted EPS ranging between $0.48 and $0.49 back in October, due to an increased number of company-owned bakery-cafe openings and higher market research costs during the quarter. As such, I don't find this particularly worrisome, since it relates to the company's longer-term prospects.

One potentially troubling prospect, on the surface, is the company's premium P/E; it currently trades at a trailing multiple of 45 times earnings. That said, well-run companies growing at a fast clip generally command a hefty premium -- two notable examples are Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ:CAKE), respectively trading at 53 and 33 times trailing earnings. But these companies have sustained very high growth rates for more than a decade while continuing to expand across the country -- or in the case of Starbucks, around the world. To my eye, Panera's still early in its high-growth phase, and has demonstrated an ability to effectively and cost-consciously expand, posting a five-year compound-annual growth rate (to net income) of nearly 50%. And the outlook's not too shabby looking forward; analysts anticipate five-year earnings growth in the vicinity of 25%.

To put things in perspective, the only time (in the recent past) when the company traded at a relative discount was in 2004, the year of the low-carb diets, when its P/E flirted with 30. And even with folks supposedly swearing off white bread, systemwide same-store sales were still 2.7%. But those times are apparently past; this year's same-store sales came in at an impressive 7.7%, and the addition of 139 new stores did its part to boost revenue 33.6%.

The company is anticipating another fabulous year in 2006, with diluted EPS expected to increase more than 25% on a pro forma basis, to between $1.91 and $1.95. The 10.2% increase in same-store sales so far in Q1 has Panera off to a strong start, and the company has raised its outlook accordingly to 4%-6% growth.

The company also announced plans to open approximately 150-160 new locations, a heady pace for an operation with only 877 stores. But with almost $90 million in cash and no debt at the end of the third quarter, it seems the growth is well under control.

Fool contributor John Bluis does not own shares in any company named above. The Fool has a disclosure policy.