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JP Morgan Downgrades Panera Bread to Neutral

JP Morgan downgrades bakery-cafe chain Panera Bread (PNRA) to neutral from overweight.

Analyst John Ivankoe says new unit volumes continue to be weakening, as average weekly sales are now down 0.5% despite reported 1.5% systemwide same-store sales. Also, by his calculations, implied fourth-quarter guidance given the company's stated $1.24 to $1.26 annual range (from $1.24 to $1.28) requires 45 cents to 47 cents for the fourth-quarter (year-to-date earnings per share are 79 cents), vs. 42 cents to 44 cents guidance given in its press release.

He says while there may be simple explanation, he doesn't know it. Therefore, Ivankoe has too many questions before the conference call later today to continue recommending purchase of stock.

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