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The company is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results on Tuesday after the market closes. Analysts, on average, expect earnings of $1.42 a share on $499.03 million in revenue.
The bakery-cafe company opened its 1,500th store in Manhattan Tuesday; this is also the first Panera in this borough.
"For 4Q11, we expect +6.3% comps (vs. guidance of +5.5%-6.5%) driven by +6% average check growth," Oppenheimer analysts wrote in a report on Sunday. "Therefore, any positive traffic (which we believe is likely given strong 4Q trends at other share takers) could drive comp upside and additional earnings leverage."
Shares of Panera hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $160.88. The stock's 52-week low of $96.68 was set on Aug. 8.
Panera has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 29.02X. The average among restaurant and bar companies is 22.65X.
Darden(DRI) has a lower forward P/E of 12.23X.
Of the 23 analysts who cover Panera, 13 rated the stock a buy. Ten gave Panera a hold rating.
TheStreet Ratings gives Panera an A grade and has a
$197.31 price target on the shares. The stock has risen 12.51% year to date.