• Papa John's reports flat '01, tough fourth quarter

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Papa John's International Inc. reported Jan. 9 that company systemwide sales at domestic stores were flat for 2001. The results were made up of a 1.2 percent increase at franchised stores and a 2.9 percent decrease at company-owned stores.

The numbers reflect a downward sales trend that began mid-year and was assisted by a particularly slow fourth quarter. In the 13-week period ending Dec. 30, domestic systemwide same-store sales fell 3 percent, made up of a franchised store drop of 1.5 percent, and a company-owned decline of 7 percent.

For the five weeks ended Dec. 30, domestic systemwide same-store sales fell 0.4 percent. Franchise stores posted a modest 1 percent sales increase, but that was offset by a 4.1 percent decline in sales at company-owned stores.

Total systemwide international sales increased 15.4 percent for the five-week December period, 14.7 percent for the fourth quarter and 22 percent for the full-year 2001, on a constant U.S. dollar basis, over comparable periods last year.

Additionally the company's fiscal year 2000 consisted of 53 weeks, versus 52 weeks in 2001. Accordingly, each of the respective sales reporting periods compares average weekly sales in 2001 to average weekly sales in 2000.

Papa John's said it will release fourth quarter and full-year results on Feb. 26.

In October the company alerted investors that fourth quarter earnings likely would likely at or near the low end of its forecasted range of 51 to 58 cents a share.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a Thomson Financial/First Call survey yielded a mean earnings estimate of 52 cents a share for the company's fourth quarter.

As of Dec. 31, 2001, there were 2,729 Papa John's restaurants (611 company-owned and 2,118 franchised) operating in 47 states and nine international markets. Papa John's also owns or franchises 193 Perfect Pizza restaurants (three company-owned and 190 franchised) in the United Kingdom.

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