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The 10 Fastest-Growing Fast Food Companies

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Ahead of end-of-the-day earnings for some, a list of fast food makers currently cooking up healthy revenue.

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Panera Bread

Second only to Starbuck's (NASDAQ:SBUX) on this list, Panera Bread's (NASDAQ:PNRA) current market cap of nearly $5 billion is the result of 18% growth over the past year.

As of 2011, there were 1,538 Panera bakery-cafe concepts across 42 states, as well as three in Ontario, Canada. 52% of these locations are franchises. Panera supplies all of its company owned and franchised stores through its 24 fresh dough and other products factories.

As recently highlighted by Seeking Alpha, Panera Bread has made a concerted effort to embrace technology, such as self-pay kiosks and mobile ordering, in order to bolster line growth during peak hours. This adds to a track record of leading innovation in the industry: Panera was the first nationwide food chain to voluntarily post calories in all of its company controlled restaurants.

Beyond this, Collier outlines some other innovations driving Panera's growth.

"Panera has been a very consistent company in terms of beating estimates and raising them. Beat and raise, beat and raise, beat and raise. I think one of the reasons for this success is, first, they have a lot of menu innovations."

Among these, Collier says, are pasta menu items currently being tested in Denver, which will likely roll out next year. Collier believes that, as a low input cost item, pasta products should help margins.

"Second, their catering business is really starting to take off. They're catering business is $130 million, or 7% of revenue, but it's growing very fast. And the third thing is they're increasing their marketing, and are beginning to do television commercials."

Panera reports earning after the market closes on October 23.

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store's (NASDAQ:CBRL) stock has been on a steady rises since hitting bottom at $11 in November 2008. The company's stock is now pushing toward $70 per share after reporting positive fourth quarter earnings on September 24, and announcing it would increase its quarterly dividend from $.10 to $.50. The company's market cap grew 14% over the past year to $1.6 billion.

Cracker Barrel owns all of its 620 restaurants across 42 states, which serve homestyle country cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It does not serve alcohol. Locations also feature gift shops, which sell many goodies including Cracker Barrel branded pancake mix and kitchenware, clothing, and even rocking chairs.
Analyst quoted for this article may have positions in some of the stocks mentioned.
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