LAKEWOOD, COLO. — Net income at Einstein Noah Restaurant Group in the third quarter ended Sept. 29 soared to $60,861,000, equal to $3.75 per share on the common stock, up sharply from $4,537,000, or 28c per share, in the same period a year ago. The most recent quarterly results included a $56.8 million tax benefit.

Net sales in the third quarter totaled $100,046,000, down 0.8% from $100,895,000 in the third quarter of fiscal 2008.

"System-wide comparable store sales and transaction performance reflect substantial improvement from the beginning of the year when our current marketing and merchandising initiatives were implemented," said Jeff O’Neill, chief executive officer and president. "These efforts are ongoing and are intended to serve as a foundation for sustainable long-term growth as we’ve previously stated. Despite the challenges of the current economic environment, we remain confident that our progress to build awareness, trial, and frequency will continue to gain momentum and position Einstein Noah for improved performance as we move toward 2010."

For the nine months ended Sept. 29, net income was $69,177,000, or $4.30 per share, up from $15,293,000, or 96c per share, in the first nine months of fiscal 2008. Net sales were $304,827,000, down 1.5% from $309,573,000.