Panera Bread shares have cruised nearly 8% higher this morning after the company reported that its board has approved the repurchase of up to $75 million of the firm's common shares. Panera will use funds from a $75-million credit facility to finance the accelerated repurchase program, which it expects will conclude during the first quarter of 2008.

PNRA has declined under pressure from its 10-week moving average since mid-June, but the stock has now met back up with support from its 50-week trendline. A burst of short-covering support could help the stock climb higher; at PNRA's average daily volume, it would take nearly a week's worth of trading to repurchase the existing 4.63 million shorted shares.

However, extreme bullishness from the speculative crowd could work against the stock. PNRA's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio is 0.40, which ranks lower than 90% of other such readings taken during the past year. In the January 2008 series, peak call open interest of 8,746 contracts lies at the 55 strike meanwhile, PNRA is trading south of the 40 level.