There are many reasons why Panera Bread would be attractive to a strategic buyer, but the most logical fit would be JAB Holding, analyst Bob Derrington told CNBC on Tuesday.
The privately held company, headquartered in Luxembourg, owns other brands such as Keurig Green Mountain and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
"An acquisition of Panera Bread not only brings them a digital platform that ultimately that they can use across their portfolio, but also it provides them an opportunity for some vertical integration of the coffee business," the senior research analyst at Telsey Advisory Group said in an interview with "Power Lunch."
On Monday, Bloomberg reported Panera was exploring strategic options, including a possible sale, citing sources close to Panera. The restaurant's chief financial officer told CNBC the company never comments on rumor or speculation.
JAB Holding, which was mentioned as a potential suitor by one of Bloomberg's sources, also did not have a comment, a spokesperson told CNBC.
The stock surged on Monday after the report, hitting an all-time high of $292.42 before closing up 7.9 percent at $282.63. It gave back some of those gains in midafternoon trading on Tuesday.
Derrington thinks if Panera gets a "really motivated buyer" and the sale came down to an auction, the price could go over $300 a share.
For one, the company has some of the best fundamentals in the industry, he noted. Plus, "there's a number of pieces to Panera's story that, I think, for a strategic buyer make an awful lot of sense, especially the technology, the digital platform the company has, the loyalty program."
— CNBC's Sarah Whitten contributed to this report.