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Cramer: Loyal Customers Support Panera

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Jim Cramer says investors will have to pay up for Panera's (PNRA) stock, just like they do for the food.

Cramer says that Ron Shaich, Chairman and co-CEO of Panera, is a straight shooter and he believes him when he says Panera has an affinity associated with it that leads to higher sales.

Panera's quarterly earnings report was characterized by solid sales (comparable store sales of 7% at stores owned by the company), no price degradation, and commodity costs that were under control. Given the remarkable report by Panera, Cramer wants to revisit Chipotle (CMG) to make sure that management there isn't being too conservative on their earnings guidance.

McDonald's (MCD) and Chipotle both claimed the macro environment hurt sales. That wasn't the case at Panera. Cramer says "there is no economic sensitivity to Panera's menu, none!" That suggests that Panera has a strong, loyal customer base that isn't frightened by higher prices. Interestingly, that is the opposite of the theme this quarter that people don't want to pay up for food.

--Written by Lindsey Bell in New York.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to Lindsey Bell.

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