ST. LOUIS — Net income at Panera Bread Co. in the third quarter ended Sept. 27 was $28,848,000, equal to 98c per share on the common stock, up 27% from $22,797,000, or 75c per share, in the same period a year ago. Total revenue during the third quarter was $453,087,000, up 22% from $371,994,000.

Sales from company-owned stores open at least a year rose 6% in the third quarter, while franchise-operated bakery-cafe sales increased 3% and system-wide comparable net bakery-cafe sales rose a little more than 4%.
For the first nine months of fiscal 2011, net income rose 29% to $97,332,000, or $3.27 per share, up from $75,342,000, or $2.44 per share, in the first nine months of fiscal 2010. Total revenues increased 19% to $1,326,267,000.

Panera said it expects to earn $1.39 to $1.41 per share in the fourth quarter, versus $1.21 in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. For the full year, Panera raised its 2011 earnings-per-share guidance to $4.63 to $4.65, up from earlier guidance of $4.54 to $4.58. Looking ahead to fiscal 2012, Panera set its initial e.p.s. target at $5.38 to $5.48.

During the third quarter, Panera and its franchisees opened 25 new bakery cafes. Additionally, during the quarter the company acquired substantially all the assets and certain liabilities of five Paradise Bakery & Café bakery-cafes from an Indiana franchisee and terminated, through mutual agreement, franchisee agreements for 13 franchise-operated Paradise bakery-cafes in the Denver and Portland, Ore., markets.

“We are very pleased with both our strong 6% comparable store sales growth and our 29% earnings growth in the third quarter,” said Bill Moreton, chief executive officer. “We have now been able to grow our earnings per share at a rate of 20% plus for 13 out of the last 14 quarters. We continue to believe that our consistent performance has been driven by the investments that we have made in the quality of our food, people and customer experience to drive competitive differentiation. We also have been able to deploy a meaningful amount of our excess cash to drive earnings growth and shareholder returns through high R.O.I. acquisitions and share repurchases.”