Apparently lots of people, and at more than one chain.
Papa John’s impressive second-quarter sales numbers led us to have a look at its closest competitors’ performance, and we found that they also are delivering the dough.
But first, let’s look at the home team’s digits: Papa John’s International (PZZA) reported second-quarter earnings of 61 cents per share, a nickel more than the First Call consensus forecast.
Sound tame? That number was driven by second-quarter revenue of $318.6 million, well above one analyst’s $295.7 million projection.
Still not impressed? Take this: PJ’s turned in a + 5.7 percent increase in domestic comparable-store sales—well above the Consensus Metrix estimate of + 3.6 percent. International same-store sales were spinning, too: +6.1 percent, compared to the Consensus Metrix estimate of +3.9 percent.
In this post-recession lull, when spending is still cheese-pizza bland, that’s admirable performance reflecting a lot of people doing their jobs well.
Ever vague with the particulars of its specific chain’s numbers, Yum! Brands did report that Pizza Hut’s domestic same-store sales rose 4 percent, though we don’t know what revenues it rang up.
At Domino’s, which is kindly more forthcoming with numbers, revenue sank 2.3 percent for the quarter ($376.1 million, compared with $384.9 million a year earlier), but at least domestic same-store sales increased 1.7 percent. Per usual, its international same-store sales were on fire—as they have been, since about the time fire was invented—soared 5.7 percent, which helped offset its tepid stateside sales.
What does this mean for the pizza category overall?
The question is tough to answer specifically as smaller, privately held companies, which make up more than half the industry, don’t have to disclose sales numbers.
Recent research of my own for Nation’s Restaurant News stirred up mixed reports with some sub-five-unit companies reporting strong sales, while others called activity at the cash register uninspiring. Hungry Howie’s, a 550-store chain that did talk to me, reported modestly positive same-store sales, and its vice president of franchise development, Brian Ognian, did say, “There’s no doubt that the worst of this recession is behind us.”
Similarly sized chains such as Godfather’s and Round Table Pizza (anyone who’s spent time on the West Coast knows that one) were flat to negative.
Overall, however, that’s good news—for now. Over the next three quarters, operators will face brutally tough headwinds in the next three quarters as the current drought sends commodities prices soaring.
Something else worth noting: These sales numbers are shifting increasingly toward online and mobile ordering channels, as much as 30 percent of total sales, in some cases. The pizza segment is light years ahead of the rest of the restaurant industry with type of ordering, and doubtless it’s playing a role in its current sales because, well, it’s so darn easy to order a pizza that way.
Side item: Papa John’s passes out several promotions
Know any of these guys? They might be your neighbors. And they might be driving nicer cars come this weekend as Papa John’s doled out some significant promotions this week.
- Tony Thompson is now chief operating officer, up from his role as executive vice president of global operations.
- Lance Tucker, PJ’s chief financial officer and treasurer, picked up the additional title of chief administrative officer, which means he gets the job duties abandoned by long-timer Chris Sternberg, who, after 18 years with the chain, returned to a private legal practice earlier this year. (Don’t know Sternberg? Great story. Grew up one of 10 kids living in a 1,200 square-foot Okolona home. Delivered papers to pay for his St. Xavier tuition, went on to become senior vice president of corporate communication and general counsel at Papa John’s—a position that paid him nearly $800,000 in 2011. Hard work does pay off.)
- Tim O’Hern rose from senior vice president of development to chief development officer—a huge promotion for a fella who, not counting at least one brief departure from the company, has pretty much served alongside founder John Schnatter since the early days.