The Zagat survey revealed some very intriguing findings. For example, among "fast-food mega-chains," Wendy's
Of course, given what investors have observed in the sector, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect. McDonald's
Most interesting is that on a larger scale, Panera rocked several categories. When it comes to "overall fast-food chains," it won the Most Popular, Top Food, and Top Facilities categories.
There are lots of things to like about Panera's positioning; some people have been known to wonder if Panera has branding power reminiscent of Starbucks'
Of course, Panera hasn't had an entirely smooth ride here lately, either. Panera's most recent quarter was a bit downbeat. It has its work cut out for it in terms of differentiating itself as well as one of its current goals, to lure more lunchtime customers. The lunch crowd is an important element in shoring up this company's ongoing success and ensuring it's not just loafing around.
Getting such excellent rankings in the Zagat survey certainly does provide nosh-worthy tidbits for investors' brains, but of course, it's not the whole story. Trading at 21 times next year's earnings, which are expected to rise by 23%, doesn't insinuate that Panera is a raging buy at the moment. Then again, the stock merits a watchful eye in the coming year.