Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Papa John’s shares have outpaced the industry in the last three months. The company has been posting positive comps in both domestic and international markets over the past several quarters. Going forward, comps growth is likely to persist on the back of menu innovation and value offers. Meanwhile, its commitment to provide quality food is commendable and should continue appealing the health conscious customers. It is also focusing on digital innovation to attract new customers and drive growth and efficiency. Papa John’s strategic partnerships, large scale expansion plans and increased focus on franchising bode well too. The company’s strong free cash flow position and willingness to return wealth to shareholders through buybacks and dividends also raise confidence. However, higher costs, negative currency translation and a challenging sales environment in the restaurant space remain concerns.”

Other equities research analysts have also recently issued reports about the company. Citigroup Inc. started coverage on Papa John’s International in a report on Monday, September 18th. They set a “buy” rating and a $90.00 target price for the company. BTIG Research restated a “buy” rating and set a $100.00 target price on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Tuesday, August 29th. KeyCorp restated an “equal weight” rating on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Tuesday, June 20th. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “hold” rating and set a $83.00 price target on shares of Papa John’s International in a research report on Friday, July 14th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus initiated coverage on Papa John’s International in a research report on Monday. They set a “hold” rating and a $65.00 price target for the company. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have given a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. Papa John’s International presently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $86.00.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ PZZA) traded up 0.43% on Tuesday, reaching $69.85. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 148,895 shares. The firm has a market cap of $2.54 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 24.33 and a beta of 0.50. The firm has a 50 day moving average of $74.49 and a 200 day moving average of $76.97. Papa John’s International has a 12 month low of $68.68 and a 12 month high of $90.49.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 1st. The company reported $0.65 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.64 by $0.01. Papa John’s International had a return on equity of 919.82% and a net margin of 6.13%. The firm had revenue of $434.78 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $438.51 million. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $0.61 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.8% compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts anticipate that Papa John’s International will post $2.85 earnings per share for the current year.

Papa John’s International declared that its board has authorized a share buyback plan on Tuesday, August 1st that authorizes the company to buyback $500.00 million in shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the company to reacquire up to 198% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback plans are generally an indication that the company’s leadership believes its shares are undervalued.

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In related news, SVP Timothy C. Ohern sold 9,218 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.08, for a total transaction of $692,087.44. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now owns 35,650 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $2,676,602. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. 27.70% of the stock is owned by company insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. Dynamic Technology Lab Private Ltd bought a new position in Papa John’s International during the 2nd quarter valued at approximately $1,254,000. Koch Industries Inc. boosted its stake in Papa John’s International by 6,732.0% during the 2nd quarter. Koch Industries Inc. now owns 297,807 shares of the company’s stock valued at $294,000 after purchasing an additional 293,448 shares during the last quarter. Verition Fund Management LLC purchased a new stake in Papa John’s International during the 2nd quarter valued at $424,000. Nomura Holdings Inc. boosted its stake in Papa John’s International by 30.0% during the 2nd quarter. Nomura Holdings Inc. now owns 7,361 shares of the company’s stock valued at $529,000 after purchasing an additional 1,698 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Bank of Nova Scotia purchased a new stake in Papa John’s International during the 2nd quarter valued at $3,610,000. 83.77% of the stock is owned by institutional investors.

Papa John’s International Company Profile

Papa John’s International, Inc (Papa John’s) operates and franchises pizza delivery and carryout restaurants and, in certain international markets, dine-in and delivery restaurants under the trademark Papa John’s. The Company operates through five segments: domestic Company-owned restaurants, North America commissaries, North America franchising, international operations and all other business units.

Analyst Recommendations for Papa John`s International (NASDAQ:PZZA)

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