Industry News | March 5, 2001

Panera Bread 4Q Earnings Climb

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Panera Bread Company (Nasdaq: PNRA) reports net income for the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2000, rose 71% to $2,325,000 or $0.17 per diluted share (this is net of a $468,000 pre-tax reserve, or $0.02 per share, in connection with the repositioning of four lower volume original Saint Louis Bread locations) from $1,360,000 (excluding a non-recurring income tax benefit of $1,404,000) or $0.11 per diluted share, for the twelve weeks ended December 25, 1999.

For the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2000, net income climbed 141% to $6,859,000, or $0.52 per diluted share (exclusive of the one-time after tax gain related to the sale of Au Bon Pain of $558,000, or $0.04 per share and net of the real estate repositioning charge of $0.02 per share), from $2,847,000, or $0.23 per diluted share, for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25,1999, for Panera Bread on a stand-alone basis (which excludes the results of the Au Bon Pain Business Unit that was sold on May 16, 1999, includes an allocation for overhead services provided by Au Bon Pain Co., Inc. and excludes the non-recurring tax benefit recorded in the fourth quarter of 1999).

The company reported cash flow, as measured by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $5,878,000 in the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2000, up 45% from $4,065,000 for the twelve weeks ended December 25, 1999. For the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2000, EBITDA (excluding the gain related to the sale of Au Bon Pain) climbed 74% to $19,632,000 from $11,299,000 for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 1999 (for Panera Bread on a stand-alone basis in 1999).

The company also reported that at the time of this press release, an analysis was underway in order to finalize certain accounting matters related to the sale of the Au Bon Pain Business Unit which occurred in May, 1999. This analysis is not yet complete as a result of the complexities associated with the implementation of the company's information system which went online in October, 1999, when all of the accounting and business data from pre-existing Au Bon Pain systems were transferred to the new system. Management believes that upon completion of this analysis the company's 2000 operating earnings will not be impacted and that the total aggregate exposure is expected to be less than $650,000 on an after-tax basis. Management believes that this analysis will be completed prior to the filing of the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K expected later this month.

System-wide sales for Panera Bread increased 73% to $102.9 million for the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2000, compared to $59.7 million for the twelve weeks ended December 25, 1999, for Panera Bread on a stand-alone basis. For the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2000, system-wide sales rose 73% to $350.8 million from $202.1 million for Panera Bread on a stand-alone basis for the fifty-two weeks ended December 25, 1999.

System-wide comparable bakery-cafe sales increased 7.0% for the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2000 (5.9% for company-owned bakery-cafes and 8.2% for franchised bakery-cafes). For the fifty-three weeks ended December 30, 2000, system-wide comparable bakery-cafe sales increased 9.1% (8.1% for company-owned bakery-cafes and 10.3% for franchised bakery-cafes). This marks the 20th consecutive quarter that Panera Bread (on a stand-alone basis) has reported positive comparable company bakery-cafe sales.

During the thirteen weeks ended December 30, 2000, 31 new Panera Bread bakery-cafes were opened (three company-owned bakery-cafes and 28 franchised bakery-cafes). In the fourth quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001, the company has taken the opportunity to upgrade four of its original Saint Louis Bread Co. bakery-cafe locations. The four older bakery-cafes have been or are being replaced by three new bakery-cafes offering the complete Panera experience. One of the replacement bakery-cafes opened in November, 2000, and is presently generating approximately 150% of the combined weekly sales of the two units, located within a block of each other, that it replaced. In connection with these repositionings, the company took a fourth quarter 2000 pre-tax charge of $468,000, or $0.02 per share.

For the full fiscal year, 81 bakery-cafes were opened (11 company-owned and 70 franchised bakery-cafes). As of December 30, 2000, 262 Panera Bread bakery-cafes (including four specialty bakery-cafes) were operating in 28 states (90 company-owned and 172 franchised bakery-cafes). Additionally, as of December 30, 2000, there were franchise commitments in place for the development of an additional 561 bakery-cafes.

For the fiscal year ended December 30, 2000, the system-wide average annualized bakery-cafe volume for all Panera Bread bakery-cafes open (excluding four that are specialty cafes) was $1,617,000, which represents a 12% increase over the prior year. The average annualized unit volume for the 81 bakery-cafes opened in 2000 was $1,774,000.

Ron Shaich, chairman and chief executive officer commented, "We are very pleased that our strong performance continued during the fourth quarter, despite severe winter weather in both our core Midwest and Northeast markets. In the fourth quarter, we exceeded both our earnings per share target ($0.17 vs. $0.16) and development target (31 bakery-cafes vs. 20 bakery-cafes), and we did this while absorbing $468,000, or $0.02 per share, in charges to better position our real estate. If we had not chosen to take these charges to reposition our real estate, our earnings per share would have been $0.19 for the fourth quarter. For the full fiscal year, our earnings per share of $0.52 (excluding the $0.04 gain on the sale of Au Bon Pain) significantly exceeded the target of $0.40 we set at the beginning of the year. Additionally, our development of 81 bakery-cafes substantially exceeded our original target of 65.

"Our strong results in 2000 (a 126% increase in earnings per share) and the elevation to $1,774,000 million in the average annualized unit volume of bakery-cafes opened during 2000, which in turn drives store level return on investment (ROI) and fuels franchisee and company growth, further raises our confidence in our future. As a result, we are increasing our 2001 development target to 84 new bakery-cafes (14 company-owned and 70 franchised bakery-cafes) and are announcing today that we have increased our earnings per share target for 2001 to $0.75. In addition, we now believe that development and earnings momentum will grow throughout 2001. Our earnings per share target for the first and second quarters is a 40% increase over the prior year. Our target for third and fourth quarter earnings per share growth is 50% over the prior year.''

Panera Bread Company owns and franchises bakery-cafes under the Panera Bread and Saint Louis Bread Co. names. The company is a leader in the emerging specialty bread/cafe category due to its unique bread combined with a quick, casual dining experience. Additional information is available on the company's website, www.panerabread.com .

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by QSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.