Ron Shaich, chairman and chief executive officer commented, ``We are very pleased that our strong sales momentum from 2000 has carried over into this year. Our sales continue to be positively impacted by the strong consumer response to our concept, increasing market penetration and solid operational execution. Given the strength of our comparable bakery-cafe sales to date, we are now increasing our first quarter earnings per share target to $0.18.''
The company will begin reporting comparable bakery-cafe sales each four-week period going forward.
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 .