Panera Bread Axes Additives But Will It Shake the Skeptics?

Panera Break Co (PNRA) will cut at least 150 artificial ingredients from its menu by the end of next year

May 5, 2015 at 3:05 PM
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Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) made headlines earlier when the restaurant chain announced its decision to remove over 150 artificial ingredients from its menu by the end of 2016. Of course, PNRA is just the latest in a series of food companies choosing to reform their practices in order to satisfy the changing appetites of Americans.

Late last month, chicken cartel Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE:TSN) said it would cut the use of antibiotics in the birds it sells by September 2017, amid concerns that the practice is contributing to the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. Around the same time, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) became the first national restaurant chain to ban GMOs.

Even more recently, McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) unveiled a turnaround plan yesterday morning. To address sagging sales and a poor brand image, CEO Steve Easterbrook intends to implement a number of changes -- including improved food choice and quality.

While MCD may need to shake things up to invigorate its yawn-inducing stock movement, such is not the case for PNRA. In fact, the shares are up almost 20% since hitting a mid-February low of $153 to trade at $183.28, and are fresh off an April 29 annual high of $186.47.

Nevertheless, there's plenty of negative energy being channeled toward PNRA. Sixty percent of analysts consider the stock a "hold" or worse, and 11% of its float is sold short -- which would take nearly seven sessions to repurchase, at normal daily volumes. In other words, Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ:PNRA) could be on the verge of some bullish analyst attention and/or short covering


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