Additionally, a big part of the bearish story about Panera has centered on the company's declining operating margins, which have been down every year since 2004, and yesterday's press release mentioned that management's renewed focus on driving higher gross profit per transaction started to yield better margins in the current quarter.
PNRA's stock price has recently reflected the change in wheat prices and yesterday's company announcement also removed some of the uncertainties around the company's exposure to this volatile commodity (up 20% from May). Management stated that it is has now locked in about 95% of its wheat requirements for 1H09 at $10/bushel (down more than 30% from the average $15 paid in 1H08). With wheat moving up so much in the last 3 weeks, this will be welcomed news to investors. Interestingly enough, the company wanted to lock in its 2H09 requirements as well, but suppliers are not offering commitments on basis for that time period.