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* Q2 earnings $1.50 per share versus $1.18 a year earlier
* Revenue up almost 18 percent to $530.6 million
July 24 (Reuters) - Panera Bread Co reported higher quarterly profit on Tuesday after sales at established company-owned bakery-cafes rose more than analysts' expected.
Second-quarter net income at Panera, one of the top performing U.S. restaurant chains, rose to $44. 1 million, or $1.50 cents per share, from $35.7 million, or $1.18 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue increased almost 18 percent to $530.6 million. Sales at company-owned bakery-cafes open at least 18 months jumped 7.1 percent, more than the 5.2 percent gain expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Panera raised its forecast for 2012 earnings to a range of $5.72 to $5.78 from a previous range of range of $5.58 to $5.63 per share.