Is Panera Heading For A Sale?

Panera’s stock price is up this morning in pre-market trading as investors are buoyed by reports that the QSR chain is facing a sale.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg is reporting that Panera is working with advisers to determine what its best strategic options are — particularly in light of the fact that the firm has had some takeover interest. Said unnamed sources also listed Domino’s Pizza and JAB Holding Co. Investors clearly like the announcement; Panera’s shares rose 8 percent yesterday as takeover rumors started to swirl, breaking previous records.

Panera does not comment on rumors or speculation, a company spokesman said.

Domino’s spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre-Petko said in an email the company was committed to remaining a single-brand pizza provider and was not discussing the purchase of Panera.

JAB was not reachable for media comment.

“We wonder if shareholders would truly be better off under new management,” RBC analysts wrote in a research note on Monday. “Given Panera’s strong management team, and tangible sales initiatives (delivery, catering, and rising digital adoption), we struggle to come up with the strategic rationale for a would-be buyer in the publicly traded realm.”

Panera is also avoiding many of the typical signs of weakness plaguing retail and QST food — the firm has reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue for the last six quarters.


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