Panera Bread Company Inc. Stock Buy Recommendation Reiterated (PNRA)

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Panera Bread Company (Nasdaq: PNRA) has been reiterated by TheStreet Ratings as a buy with a ratings score of A. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

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Highlights from the ratings report include:
  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 1.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 15.3%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • PNRA's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.01 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with the favorable debt-to-equity ratio, the company maintains an adequate quick ratio of 1.38, which illustrates the ability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • Compared to where it was a year ago today, the stock is now trading at a higher level, reflecting both the market's overall trend during that period and the fact that the company's earnings growth has been robust. Looking ahead, unless broad bear market conditions prevail, we still see more upside potential for this stock, despite the fact that it has already risen over the past year.
  • PANERA BREAD CO has improved earnings per share by 33.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, PANERA BREAD CO increased its bottom line by earning $5.89 versus $4.55 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($7.05 versus $5.89).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Hotels, Restaurants & Leisure industry. The net income increased by 33.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $38.62 million to $51.61 million.

Panera Bread Company, together with its subsidiaries, owns, operates, and franchises retail bakery-cafes in the United States and Canada. The company operates three business segments: Bakery-Cafe Operations, Franchise Operations, and Fresh Dough and Other Product Operations. Panera Bread has a market cap of $5.1 billion and is part of the services sector and leisure industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 31.00, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 18.00. Shares are up 14.1% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

You can view the full Panera Bread Ratings Report or get investment ideas from our investment research center.

--Written by a member of TheStreet Ratings Staff.

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