UPDATE: Wedbush Upgrades Panera on New Initiatives, Share Repurchases
In a report published Monday, Wedbush analyst Nick Setyan upgraded Panera Bread Company (NASDAQ: PNRA) from Neutral to Outperform and raised the price target from $185.00 to $215.00.
Setyan commented on increased "expectation for upside to modest 2014 consensus estimates, despite meaningful investments ahead based on 1) checks indicating strong Q1 SSS growth, 2) our belief that national marketing, Panera 2.0 and catering initiatives are poised to sustain sales lifts ahead of expectations, and 3) share repurchases ahead of expectations." The analyst highlighted that the rollout of "Rapid Pick-up" and Fast Lane Kiosks could help address bottlenecks and aid in comp trajectory. Following conversations regarding these opportunities with stores in Charlotte, the stores indicated sales increases of over 20%. Analyst Day also indicated that test market comps are up double-digits, with Wedbush's own research showing a greater than 30% ROI.
Nick Setyan concluded his thesis, reporting that stronger sales and $1 billion in additional debt capacity could further drive upside to EPS expectations.
Shares of Panera Bread closed at $174.00 on Friday. The stock is currently up 1.68% in Pre-Market trading.
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