What: Shares of Panera Bread Co. (NASDAQ:PNRA.DL) rose 16.8% in the month of July, according to S&P Capital IQ data, driven by the fast-casual restaurant chain's strong second-quarter results. After closely mirroring the market in recent months, that jump effectively pushed Panera stock into the black for 2015.
So what: Interestingly enough, Panera's second-quarter results technically fell short of expectations; revenue rose 7% to $676.5 million, and adjusted net income per share fell 7% year over year to $1.61. Analysts, on average, were modeling second-quarter sales of $679 million, and net income of $1.63 per share.
As fellow Fool Dan Caplinger pointed out in his full earnings take, however, investors cheered as Panera's same-store sales growth accelerated sequentially by more than a full percentage point to 1.8%, including 2.4% at company-owned locations and 1.1% at franchises. In total, that result was also bolstered by 1.1% transaction growth, and average check size growth of 1.3%.
Now what: Panera also opened a net of 18 new locations last quarter, bringing its total to 1,926. By the end of this fiscal year, Panera anticipates it will have opened a total of 105 to 115 systemwide new restaurants.
In addition, by quarter's end Panera had completed conversion of 183 bakery-cafes in keeping with the new Panera 2.0 technology-centric guest experience initiative, including 77 year to date, and continues to expect conversion of roughly 300 company-owned locations this fiscal year. For perspective, when Panera 2.0 was unveiled last year, the company's stated goal for the program was to "reduce friction such as wait times, improve order accuracy, and minimize or eliminate crowding -- all while creating a platform for an ever more personalized experience."
The proof is in the pudding; for the first 27 days of the current quarter, Panera says company-owned comparable sales were up 4.7%. In the end, assuming Panera can use its initiatives to keep building on this momentum as it grows its store base, I see no reason the stock won't also continue rewarding patient shareholders willing to watch its long-term story unfold.