Put Some 'Bread' in Your Wallet

04/24/2013 7:45 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

This well-known restaurant's shares are breaking out, and have seen recent purchases from mutual funds, says Leo Fasciocco of Ticker Tape Digest.

Panera Bread (PNRA) operates 1,650 bakery-restaurants. The company’s annual revenues are $2.1 billion.

Panera’s stock has been a steady and outstanding long-term performer. The shares have recently broken out to the upside, moving to a new all-time high. The stock got a boost from an upgrade from Goldman Sachs’ analysts and positive comments from Sanford C. Bernstein Co.

The company's new Chief Financial Officer is Roger Matthews. He previously spent 15 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was senior relationship banker for the restaurant group.

Net income for the upcoming first quarter should rise 18% to $1.64 a share, from $1.40 the year before. The highest estimate from analysts on the Street is $1.68 a share. We see good chances for a mild upside surprise. During the prior four quarters, Panera topped the consensus estimate by 1 to 11 cents a share.

For the full year, analysts are forecasting a 20% jump in the company’s earnings, to $7.05 a share from $5.89 a year ago. The stock sells with a price-to-earnings ratio of 24. We see that as reasonable. Going out to 2014, the Street is projecting a 15% gain to $8.08 a share from the anticipated $7.05 this year.

The largest fund holder is Fidelity Growth Company Fund (FDGRX), who has a 3% stake. The five-star fund has kept its position stable. The four-star Prudential Jennison Mid Cap Growth Fund (PEEAX) was a recent purchaser of 21,234 shares.

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