COVID-19 pandemic fuels huge growth at Papa John’s

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Americans are chowing down on pizza during the pandemic — and Papa John’s is raking in the dough.

The pizza chain said its third-quarter pizza sales jumped 17 percent from a year earlier to $473 million, as demand from hungry, hunkered-down customers for its cheese-and-pepperoni pies continued to surge.

Comparable sales — or sales at outlets open at least a year, a closely watched metric on Wall Street — surged 24 percent, beating out a 17-percent surge recently reported by Domino’s.

Papa John’s stock — which has more than doubled since it got clobbered in March over fears about COVID-19 lockdowns — was recently up 6.4 percent at $80.97 in Thursday morning trades.

After three years of battling with its controversial founder John Schnatter — who stepped down as chief executive in 2017 over his controversial remarks about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, and who resigned from the board a year later over a racial slur — Papa John’s is no longer in the news for the wrong reasons.

Last year, basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal joined Papa John’s board and became the company’s new pitchman. It’s the fourth-largest pizza chain in the US but has been growing faster than the No. 1 chain, Domino’s.

“Papa John’s is putting up the best growth numbers in the sector,” restaurant analyst, Mark Kalinowski told The Post.

Papa John’s said it earned $15.7 million, or an adjusted 35 cents per share, ahead of the 32 cents per share that Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected.

Also on Thursday, Papa John’s announced a $75 million share repurchase program that will buy back 3 percent of the company’s outstanding stock.

Papa John’s also said Thursday that a relocation of its headquarters to Atlanta from Louisville, Ky., announced in September, will be completed by next summer.

A Global Asset Management Seoul Korea Magazine

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