LOUISIVLLE, Ky. — Papa John's International Inc. announced it expects 2004 earnings to be in the range of $2.20 to $2.28 per share, according to a news release.

The nation's No. 3 pizza maker anticipates domestic systemwide comparable sales to range from flat to an increase of 2 percent.

The release noted that while the company believes it is beginning to see sales improvements, it is not clear whether the trends for the U.S. quick-service restaurant pizza category have begun to improve.

Domestic restaurant openings are expected to range from 120 to 140, most of which will be franchise units. Between 60 to 80 domestic units and 10 to 20 international units are expected to close in 2004.

The company also anticipates capital expenditures to range from $25 million to $30 million, with the relocation of a commissary facility in North Carolina as the primary reason for the increase over 2003 expenditures.

Food costs are expected to be flat for 2004 and labor costs may be about 1 percent lower, according to the release.

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