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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stifel Financial, Panera Bread Among Fortune's "Fastest Growing Companies"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 11:15 AM

St. Louis-based Stifel Financial and Panera Bread, of suburban Richmond Heights, are among the nation's fastest growing companies, according to Fortune magazine.

The list, compiled annually for the magazine's September issue, claims to catalog "who -- and what -- is succeeding even in a stagnant economy."

Stifel Financial was ranked 65th on the list, thanks to its acquisition of 56 branches of UBS Financial Services last year. The company boasts an enviable 54 percent growth rate over the last three years, Fortune reports.

Panera Bread -- known to people in this fair city as St. Louis Bread Company -- clocked in at number 99.

And while Stifel made the list last year, at number 25, this appears to be a first for Panera.

The company, Fortune reports, "rang up higher profits with healthy offerings of pricier salads and sandwiches." Those profits are reflected in Panera's 18 percent growth over the last three years -- and $94.5 million in income in the last four quarters alone.

Since most of the other instantly recognizable companies on the list were in recession-friendly categories like "cheap online travel" (we're talking about you, Priceline), "cheap books" (Amazon), it was somewhat surprising to see Panera make the list -- and courtesy of a pricier menu, no less.

The only other restaurant company we spotted on the list? Chipotle, which clocked in at Number 60. Once again, Fortune reports, that's thanks to higher-priced products, plus 121 new locations.

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