"Papa John’s International Inc. was upgraded to overweight from sector weight at KeyBanc Capital Markets with analysts expressing the surprising view that diners, concerned about political and civil unrest, are choosing to stay home for pizza delivery rather than head out for a meal.
Papa John’s PZZA, +3.15% price target is $80, or about 16% above its current trading level.
“After speaking with several large operators and industry contacts, we believe the recent decline in casual dining restaurant segment fundamentals—traffic down 3% to 5% the past several weeks—may be the result of consumers eating more at home amid the current political/social backdrop, which we believe could last through the November election,” KeyBanc analysts wrote in a note published Tuesday.
Diners’ shift to a preference for convenience will benefit pizza delivery businesses like Papa John’s, according to KeyBanc.
The bank has a second-quarter earnings estimate of 56 cents per share, higher than the FactSet consensus of 54 cents per share. In a recent investor sentiment survey, KeyBanc found that respondents expect second-quarter earnings of 53 cents per share, analysts wrote.
“We believe investors’ near-term neutral sentiment towards Papa John’s reflects a ‘missed it’ mentality following a meaningful recovery in its share price since reporting first-quarter results on May 3,” the note said.
Papa John’s shares, which jumped 3.8% Wednesday, are up 23.0% over the past three months. The S&P 500 is up 2.9% for the last three months.
“We have noticed, what seems to us, a recent uptick in pizza sector-related auto/truck accidents as of late,” Nomura analysts wrote in a note published June 22.
In addition, Nomura highlighted a “seemingly resurgent” Pizza Hut in its note, with the increased competition having a negative impact on same-store sales at Papa John’s and Domino’s. Pizza Hut is a Yum Brands Inc. YUM, +0.35% restaurant chain.
See also: McDonald’s to expand all-day breakfast with McGriddle, McMuffin and biscuit sandwiches
Papa John’s is expected to announce second-quarter earnings on August 2, after the bell." stock chart from marketwatch