Panera just announced a bunch of "value enhancing initiatives," and now the stock is going wild.
In after hours trade on Wednesday, shares of Panera were up as much as 11% after the company announced it would repurchase $750 million worth of stock and re-franchise 73 company-owned restaurants.
Panera announced that it expects to repurchase $500 million worth of stock in the next 12 months with a combination of cash on hand, cash from operations, and $500 million of new debt the company plans to issue.
The company also upped its total repurchase authorization to $750 million.
Panera will also re-franchise 73 restaurants, which means it will sell restaurants currently owned by the company to franchisees. This is a move that mitigates the company's risk to more volatile costs like labor and food prices, allowing the company to simply take a cut of sales and provide other support, while individuals run the restaurant directly.
In a statement, Panera CEO Ron Shaich said, "Recently, Panera has been implementing a series of structural enhancements to improve our competitive position and expand growth opportunities."
And shareholders are clearly excited after what's been a tough year, with the stock down about 6% year-to-date before Wednesday's big move:
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