Investors buying Panera Bread's weather excuses

Shares of Panera Bread (PNRA +3%) have recovered nicely from a post-earnings dip to lead the restaurant sector.

During an earnings conference call, execs noted stores in weather-affected areas saw comparable-store sales drop 10% or more which makes its overall 2% QTD dip in comp sales look a bit more reasonable.

Panera saw its average guest check rise 2.5% in Q4, but is hinting at more transaction growth in the future through new initiatives.

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