The Ratings Game: Panera could get squeezed out by other fast-casual chains

Even though Panera Bread Co. reported earnings on Tuesday that beat estimates and has plans for continued expansion in areas of its business, like catering, some analysts wonder whether the company has reached its peak.

“[D]espite these best efforts, we fear that brand Panera has still likely achieved ‘peak returns’ for two reasons: First, because Panera has reached 60% U.S. saturation, a typical arrival point of a concept’s ‘peak returns’; and second, because of the emergence of two new breeds of quick-casual concepts that we believe have been designed to ‘middle’ Panera Bread Company,” wrote Stifel in a Wednesday note.

Stifel rates Panera shares sell with a $175 target price.

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