How to Buy Upcoming Panera Bread Stock and Whether You Should

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Nov. 9 2021, Published 10:42 a.m. ET

When it's gone, it's gone—Panera Bread's mac and cheese, that is. But profitable investments continue to grow and compound on top of the initial cost basis. Panini and stock market fans can rejoice because Panera Bread stock is returning to the public market.

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After a public-to-private maneuver in 2017, Panera is reentering the stock market—but this time, through a traditional IPO that's backed by a SPAC. Here's how to buy Panera stock once it's live.

Panera Bread is going public via an IPO with SPAC investment

Millionaire restaurateur Danny Meyer's blank-check company is helping take Panera Bread public in an unusual SPAC maneuver. The parent company Panera Brands (owner of Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee, and Einstein Bros. Bagels) will proceed with a traditional IPO while Meyer's SPAC backs it.

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Despite the IPO, Panera's long-term investor JAB Holding Co. will retain its majority stake. Meyer, the head of the participating SPAC called USGH Acquisition Corp. (backed by Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group LLC), will use his blank-check firm as the key investor in Panera as it seeks an IPO with the SEC.

Will Panera's IPO tactic work?

Panera is pursuing an unusual route to the public market. It's reminiscent of Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Tontine Holdings SPAC, which Ackman dissolved after the SEC denied its partial acquisition of Universal Music Group. SPAC investors who entered into the position before the merger was finalized lost out on millions. Ackman lost 80 percent of his initial investment in the largest SPAC yet launched.

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Now, Panera and Meyer are trying to do something similar. For investors, it's a waiting game to see whether the SEC will give Panera the green light.

Panera goes public to private—to public again

Panera went private in 2017 after 26 years on the public market. JAB bought Panera out of the public market in a $7.5 billion deal (including debt). At the time, then-CEO Ron Shaich told CNBC's Squawk on the Street, "This is going to allow us to do better work, it’s going to allow us to stay committed to the ‘do the delivery’ initiative, to do the ‘clean’ initiative we’re working on. It will enable us in so many different ways."

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Panera adds to slew of restaurant IPOs

Panera isn't the only restaurant chain going public as of late. Recently, Krispy Kreme (NASDAQ:DNUT) returned to the public market with a new leadership lineup and a trendy ticker. Coffee dealer Dutch Bros (NYSE:BROS) also went public, as did First Watch Restaurant Group and Portillo's.

When will Panera stock be available?

Panera hasn't divulged concrete plans for its public debut yet. This includes the price per share, number of shares, and date the company plans to complete its SPAC merger and hit the stock market.

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Panera is seeking a traditional IPO, which takes longer than a pure SPAC deal (as opposed to the SPAC backing the restaurant group is currently seeking). SEC approval will be the first step in determining a date for Panera stock.

How to buy Panera Bread stock

If or when it does go public, Panera stock will have its own ticker on the public market. The company's former stock symbol was "PNRA," and the company could retain its old ticker or start fresh with a brand new set of letters.

Right now, investors can back Panera by investing in USHG Acquisition Corp. (NYSE:HUGS), although risk-aware traders might want to wait for a definitive agreement so they don't get caught in an Ackman-like debacle.

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