Panera shares surge on report of possible sale

Panera spikes on reports of possible sale

Panera Bread surged Monday on a report that the restaurant chain was exploring strategic alternatives, including a possible sale, after receiving takeover interest.

Panera is working with advisors to look over strategic options, according to sources close to Panera cited by Bloomberg. One of those sources told the news service that potential suitors could include JAB Holding, Starbucks and Domino's.

The report added that there was no certainty that a deal would be struck.

When reached by CNBC, Panera Chief Financial Officer Michael Bufano said: "As a matter of policy, we never comment on rumors or speculation."

After the report, Panera shares jumped more than 7 percent before trading was halted due to volatility. Once the shares resumed trading, Panera's stock surged to an all-time high of $292.42, and ended the day Monday up 7.9 percent at $282.63.

Panera's fast casual business has grown steadily, with its stock up nearly 33 percent over the last year. Since January, the stock has risen nearly 38 percent.

The restaurant has made a name for itself as a healthy brand, ditching all artificial additives and preservatives in its foods and, most recently, posting caloric and sugar information about its soft drinks.

The menu revamp has been a major part of CEO Ron Shaich's return to the chain in 2012. Shaich left the company in May of 2010. The CEO told CNBC last week he has no plans to retire.

If Panera were to strike a deal, it would become the fourth major restaurant chain to be purchased so far this year. Restaurant Brands International, which owns Burger King and Tim Hortons, completed its $1.8 billion purchase of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen last week. Darden Restaurants, which owns chains like Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, recently disclosed that it plans to buy Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen for $780 million and Oak Hill Capital Partners is slated to acquire Checkers Drive-In in a $525 million deal.

A Starbucks spokesperson declined to comment on the report, saying, "We do no comment on rumors or speculation."

Watch: Panera jumps on sales rumors

Panera jumps on sale rumors