October 25, 2011 / 10:10 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 2-Panera forecasts top Street, shares up

* Q3 EPS $0.97 vs Street view $0.94

* Sees Q4 EPS of $1.39 to $1.41 vs Street view $1.37

* Sets 2012 EPS of $5.38 to $5.48 vs Street view $5.29

* Shares jump almost 10 percent after hours

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Panera Bread Co on Tuesday forecast fourth-quarter and 2012 earnings above Wall Street expectations, sending its shares up almost 10 percent.

Panera shares closed down $115.72 and jumped 9.8 percent to $127.01 in extended trading.

The popular bakery-cafe chain, which also reported better-than-expected third-quarter profit, forecast fourth-quarter earnings of $1.39 to $1.41 per share, above analysts’ average call for a profit of $1.37 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For 2012, Panera expects earnings of $5.38 to $5.48 per share compared with analysts’ average call of $5.29 per share.

“At first blush, the quarter appears unilaterally positive,” William Blair analyst Sharon Zackfia said in a client note.

The St. Louis-based chain, one of the restaurant industry’s best performing companies, said net income rose 27 percent to $28.8 million, or 97 cents per share, for the third quarter ended Sept. 27.

Results from the latest quarter topped analysts’ average call by 3 cents per share.

Panera said revenue rose 22 percent to $453.1 million.

It reported a 6 percent rise in sales at company-owned restaurants open at least 18 months and a 3.1 percent gain in franchise-operated same-restaurant sales.

Zackfia said closely watched same-restaurant sales appeared to be accelerating and that new unit productivity was meaningfully better than last year.

The company is scheduled to host a conference call with analysts on Wednesday morning.

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