Panera Bread Company reported that in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, company-owned comparable bakery-cafe sales increased 7.4 percent on a calendar basis. Company-owned comparable bakery-cafe sales (calendar basis) increased in each of the fiscal months of the fourth quarter of 2009 (6.8 percent, 6.1 percent, and 9.6 percent, for October, November, and December, respectively.) In addition, the company announced that company-owned comparable bakery-cafe sales were up 9.4 percent in the first 21 days of the January 2010 fiscal month.

Company-owned comparable bakery-cafe sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 increased 5.9 percent on a fiscal basis. The fiscal basis compares the 13 weeks of fiscal fourth quarter of 2009 with the first 13 weeks of the 14 fiscal weeks of the fourth quarter of 2008. The calendar basis comparison matches specific weeks in 2009 to the same specific weeks in 2008.

Based on the strength of its comparable bakery-cafe sales growth, the company is now targeting earnings per diluted share of $0.94 to $0.95 for the fourth quarter (13 weeks) ended December 29, 2009. This estimate includes the net impact of $0.05 per diluted share of non-recurring charges from asset retirement activity during the fourth quarter of 2009. These results compare to net income of $0.84 per diluted share for the fourth quarter (14 weeks) ended December 30, 2008.

“Our 7.4 percent growth in comparable bakery-cafe sales in the fourth quarter, capped by comparable bakery-cafe sales growth in excess of 9 percent in December and in January-to-date, validates our commitment to invest in our business to benefit the customer,” says Panera chairman and CEO Ron Shaich. “Simply put, our strategy is working and our customers continue to respond to Panera with enthusiasm.”

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