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Analyst says Einstein Noah optimistic on 2013

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Einstein Noah Restaurant Group Inc. rose Thursday after the bagel restaurant operator told analysts about new initiatives that could lift sales this year.

The Lakewood, Colo.-based company operates the Einstein Bros. Bagels, Noah's New York Bagels and Manhattan Bagel chains. Its CEO and chief financial officer, who spoke to analysts at a conference in Florida on Wednesday, were optimistic about Einstein Noah's prospects for 2013, said Jefferies analyst Alexander Slagle.

Slagle said that the company discussed new initiatives that could boost sales, including new foods and drinks such as specialty coffee, steak, smoothies, a healthy choice menu and lunch sandwiches. They also discussed Einstein Noah's new marketing strategy, plans for more drive-through stores, extended hours and the recent growth of the company's catering and bulk businesses, he said.

Slagle, who has a "Buy" rating on the shares, thinks Einstein Noah will post better-than-expected results in 2013. Analysts polled by FactSet expect the company to post $1.01 per share in profit this year.

The stock rose 50 cents, or 4 percent, to $13.01 in afternoon trading. Over the past 12 months, the shares have lost 15 percent of their value.