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Panera Bread Rises, P.F. Chang's Fizzles

The two dining chains have different fortunes in September.

Panera Bread


puffed up, while

P.F. Chang's


fizzled, after each casual-dining chain released preliminary third-quarter data Wednesday.

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Panera projected third-quarter earnings above Wall Street's target, sending shares up 7%. P.F. Chang's shares, however, slipped 3% after the Asian-restaurant owner lowered its earnings estimate for the period amid weaker-than-anticipated sales.

Panera reported a 35% rise in third-quarter sales to $276 million. Same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 0.8% at the company's systemwide bakery-cafes.

The St. Louis-based company, crediting same-store sales growth and margin improvements, tightened its projected third-quarter earnings range to 35 cents to 37 cents a share from a prior view of 32 cents to 38 cents. The new forecast puts profits above analysts' average estimate of 35 cents, according to Thomson Financial.

In contrast, P.F. Chang's cut its third-quarter earnings estimate by 5 cents to 7 cents a share from its prior forecast of 25 cents. Analysts, on average, predicted earnings of 23 cents a share.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., company said it was hit by a sales shortfall, labor and maintenance costs, and a fire at a Nashville restaurant. The company's sales for the quarter rose to $270.8 million from $231 million a year earlier, but they fell below P.F. Chang's expectation of $273 million.

Same-store sales fell 1.6% at the company's P.F. Chang's China Bistro restaurants. They dropped 1% at the company's Pei Wei concept.

Shares of P.F. Chang's recently were down 90 cents, or 3%, to $29.36. Panera shares were up $3.12, or 7%, to $46.24.