Yum! Brands, Domino's hit 52-week highs

While continually rising gas prices remain the big headline for businesses, pizza operators can enjoy a bit of a relief in natural gas prices, as well as steady cheese and wheat prices. Also of note, Yum! Brands and Domino's both hit new 52-week highs last week.

Cheese

Average block cheese prices remained steady last week at $1.47 on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The previous two weeks, prices also were $1.47.

Prices closed at $1.46 Monday and Tuesday, $1.48 Wednesday and Thursday, and $1.49 Friday.

Wheat

Wheat prices inched up 2 cents on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, averaging $8.09. Prices were $8.07 the previous week.

Wheat closed at $8.31 Monday, $8.10 Tuesday, $8.04 Wednesday, and $8.01 Thursday and Friday.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Today's nationwide average for regular unleaded fuel is $$3.80, another jump from $3.76 last week, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.

Prices a month ago were $3.50

  . Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.55   at the pump.

Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.95, up from $3.91 last week, while today's premium unleaded price is $4.08

  , up from $4.04 last week.

Diesel fuel prices are averaging $4.11, from $4.08 last week. The price of diesel fuel is up from 

  $3.91   a month ago, and from $3.92 a year ago.

Oil prices are at a 10-month high after Iran cut supply to Europe in a dispute over its non-transparent nuclear program. Analysts have predicted that gas prices could reach $4 a gallon by spring, citing production issues and ongoing tumult in foreign markets.

Natural gas

The multi-week downtrend in natural gas prices across the country continued throughout the report week, with the exception of some brief upticks followed by quick reversals. The Henry Hub price closed at $2.24 per MMBtu on March 7, down 20 cents for the week.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the April 2012 natural gas contract fell 31.4 cents per MMBtu for the week to close at $2.302 per MMBtu.

Pizza company stocks

Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed last week at $67.58, up from $66.65 a week ago and a new 52-week high for the company. Shares were likely buoyed by an anticipated new product launch at Taco Bell, the Doritos Locos Taco. A year ago, the company was trading as low as $47.15.

Domino's closed last Friday at its new 52-week high of $40.28, up from $38.83 last week and $33.20 two weeks ago, when it turned in a solid earnings report and beat analysts' expectations. DPZ hit its 52-week high of $39.80 earlier in the week. Shares remain substantially higher over this time last year when the company traded at $15.80.

Papa John's closed last week at $37.37, up slightly from $37.03 the previous week. PZZA hit a new 52-week high in February at $40.57. The company hit its 52-week low a year ago when it traded at $26.95.

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $37.89, a jump from $37.99 the week prior. CEC hit its 52-week low of $25.83 in September. The company hit its 52-week high of $42.75 in July.

Pizza Inn closed Friday at $4.82, from $4.71 the previous week. PZZI hit its 52-week high of $7.07 in December and traded as low as $1.91 a year ago.

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