Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA) from a hold rating to a strong sell rating in a research report released on Monday.

According to Zacks, “Papa John’s third-quarter 2017 earnings of 60 cents per share topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.7% and were up 5.3% year over year (y/y) owing to higher revenues and lower costs. Revenues of $431.7 million came above the consensus mark by 1.2% and increased 2.2% y/y. In addition to product innovation, the company is focusing on digital enhancements and brand imaging. Papa John’s large scale expansion plans and increased focus on franchising bode well too. However, management stated that the decline in viewership of the NFL, combined with significant negative consumer sentiment of its association with the league, might continue to hamper comps growth. Moreover, costs related to sales initiatives coupled with forex headwinds could weigh on profits while a choppy sales environment in the restaurant space may limit revenue growth. Also, shares of the company have underperformed the industry in the last year.”

Several other equities research analysts have also recently commented on the company. Stifel Nicolaus restated a hold rating and set a $60.00 price target on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Friday. Jefferies Group LLC restated a hold rating and set a $65.00 price target on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Friday. TheStreet cut Papa John’s International from a b rating to a c+ rating in a research note on Tuesday, October 31st. BTIG Research cut Papa John’s International from a buy rating to a neutral rating in a research note on Wednesday, November 1st. Finally, Nomura cut their price target on Papa John’s International from $78.00 to $71.00 and set a neutral rating for the company in a research note on Friday, October 27th. Two investment analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and three have given a buy rating to the company. The company presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus target price of $79.56.

Shares of Papa John’s International (PZZA) traded down $1.02 during midday trading on Monday, reaching $57.66. The company’s stock had a trading volume of 726,584 shares, compared to its average volume of 799,950. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of -8.26, a quick ratio of 1.01 and a current ratio of 1.21. Papa John’s International has a one year low of $57.87 and a one year high of $90.49. The stock has a market capitalization of $2,040.00, a PE ratio of 22.68, a P/E/G ratio of 1.71 and a beta of 0.48.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) last released its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, October 31st. The company reported $0.60 EPS for the quarter, missing the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.61 by ($0.01). Papa John’s International had a return on equity of 4,321.08% and a net margin of 6.12%. The company had revenue of $431.70 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $427.23 million. During the same quarter last year, the company earned $0.57 EPS. Papa John’s International’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.2% compared to the same quarter last year. equities analysts predict that Papa John’s International will post 2.76 EPS for the current year.

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Papa John’s International declared that its Board of Directors has authorized a share buyback program on Tuesday, August 1st that allows the company to buyback $500.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to buy up to 198% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its stock is undervalued.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, November 17th. Investors of record on Tuesday, November 7th will be issued a dividend of $0.225 per share. This represents a $0.90 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 1.56%. The ex-dividend date of this dividend is Monday, November 6th. Papa John’s International’s dividend payout ratio is presently 30.93%.

In related news, SVP Timothy C. Ohern sold 9,218 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction 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 transaction, the senior vice president now owns 35,650 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,676,602. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Corporate insiders own 27.70% of the company’s stock.

A number of institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of PZZA. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. grew its holdings in Papa John’s International by 44.0% in the first quarter. UBS Asset Management Americas Inc. now owns 15,862 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,270,000 after purchasing an additional 4,846 shares during the last quarter. Teachers Advisors LLC grew its holdings in Papa John’s International by 11.7% in the first quarter. Teachers Advisors LLC now owns 88,441 shares of the company’s stock valued at $7,079,000 after purchasing an additional 9,289 shares during the last quarter. Legal & General Group Plc grew its holdings in Papa John’s International by 23.0% in the first quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 17,229 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,378,000 after purchasing an additional 3,217 shares during the last quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. grew its holdings in Papa John’s International by 7.3% in the first quarter. Vanguard Group Inc. now owns 2,378,840 shares of the company’s stock valued at $190,402,000 after purchasing an additional 160,913 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Geode Capital Management LLC grew its holdings in Papa John’s International by 4.8% in the first quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 224,484 shares of the company’s stock valued at $17,966,000 after purchasing an additional 10,267 shares during the last quarter. 87.48% of the stock is currently 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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