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Panera expects 1Q profit in range of Wall Street

Panera Bread Co. said it anticipates first-quarter earnings above last year's results, but provided guidance that ranged above and below Wall Street estimates.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Panera Bread Co. said it anticipates first-quarter earnings above last year's results, but provided guidance that ranged above and below Wall Street estimates.

The company also maintained its 2009 profit outlook.

Late Thursday the bakery-cafe owner forecast first-quarter net income of 53 cents to 59 cents per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates generally exclude one-time items, predict earnings of 56 cents per share, with the low end of estimates at 51 cents per share and the high end at 61 cents. The company reported earnings per share of 41 cents in the first quarter of 2008.

Panera reiterated its outlook for full-year profit of $2.55 to $2.71 per share.

Analysts expect 2009 earnings of $2.61 per share, with the low end of estimates at $2.55 per share and the high end at $2.68 per share.

Panera reported its fourth-quarter profit rose 43 percent due to a shift in the calendar that added an extra week compared with the same period last year and as it raised prices and opened new stores.

The company owned and franchised 1,252 bakery-cafes under the Panera Bread and Saint Louis Bread Co. names as of Dec. 30.