Papa John’s Epic Stuffed Crust pizza helps chain beat Wall Street sales forecast

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·2-min read

An increase in mobility as more people get vaccinated for COVID-19 hasn't changed much for the trajectory of Papa John's (PZZA) business. 

The pizza joint clobbered Wall Street sales and profit forecasts on Thursday, powered by demand for new Epic Stuffed Crust pizza and Papadia sandwiches. Here is how Papa John's performed compared to Wall Street analyst forecasts for the second quarter:

  • Adjusted Diluted EPS: $0.93 vs. $0.73

  • Net Sales: $515 million vs. $494.4 million

  • Systemwide North America Comparable Store Sales: +5.2% vs. +1.1%

  • Systemwide International Comparable Store Sales: +21.2% vs. +18.3%

While the company's overall sales growth slowed versus the blistering pace seen during a pandemic that has led to more eating at home, Papa John's CEO Rob Lynch tells Yahoo Finance he is very pleased by the results. 

"It was a great quarter, this was a big acid test for us in regards to showing that this is really a turnaround story and not a pandemic story," Lynch says. "We were comping over a 20% [sales increase] from a year ago, and we went into this year thinking there's no way we're going to be positive [on sales]. And you know, we were and we've delivered over 5% comp increase. We did it in a really healthy way. It's not about pricing, it's about a nice blend of transactions and ticket. Our ticket is really being driven by our innovation. We're seeing a lot of customers select into our new items, particularly Epic Stuffed Crust and parmesan crusted Papadias. They've been very incremental, and they're driving a lot of ticket growth."

Papa John's sales surpassed second quarter growth rates for rival Domino's Pizza, which posted a U.S. same-store sales increase of 3.5% and an international gain of 13.9%. Pizza Hut's U.S. same-store sales increased 4%, with international up 14%.

Shares of Papa John's are up 35% year-to-date, outperforming the S&P 500's 17% gains. Domino's Pizza has seen its stock climb 39% on the year, while Pizza Hut owner Yum! Brands has returned 22%.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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