On the heels of a strong 2013, an analyst continues to be optimistic for investors of the Papa John's and Domino's brands. According to 4-Traders, Papa John's kicked off the New Year with an upgrade to "Buy" from "Hold." The analyst cited the company's international expansion plans and technology initiatives as big drivers.
Those were also the drivers of Domino's shares rising more than 53 percent during 2013.
Meanwhile, the average cost of wheat continues to fall and is at its lowest level in years, and cheese prices continue to inch up.
Cheese prices continued to increase last week, averaging $2.01 on the Chicago Mercantile, from $2 even the week prior. Cheese averaged $1.89 in early December.
Last week, prices closed at $2 Monday and Tuesday, $2.01 Thursday and $2.04 on Friday. Markets were closed on Wednesday to observe the New Year's holiday.
Wheat prices continued to tumble last week on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange and are at their lowest level in years, averaging $6.30, from $6.39 the week prior. Wheat was more than $7.50 two months ago.
Prices closed at $6.30 Monday, $6.35 on Tuesday, $6.25 Thursday and $6.30 on Friday. The market was closed on Wednesday for the New Year's holiday.
Gasoline and diesel fuel
To kick off the New Year, the nationwide average price for regular unleaded fuel today is $3.31, even from $3.31 the week prior. According to the AAA and the Oil Price Information Service, prices a month ago were $3.26.
Last year at this time, consumers were paying $3.29 at the pump.
Today's mid-range unleaded is $3.49, also even from $3.49 the week prior. Premium gas is $3.66, from $3.66 last week.
Diesel fuel prices are averaging $3.87, from $3.86 the week prior. The price of diesel fuel was $3.85 a month ago and $3.91 last year.
Following three weeks of weather-driven increases, natural gas spot prices decreased slightly at most trading locations in the country. However, the Henry Hub spot price increased slightly, from $4.24/MMBtu Dec. 11, to $4.26/MMBtu Dec. 18.
At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the January 2014 contract declined from $4.337/MMBtu Dec. 11 to $4.251/MMBtu Dec. 18, ending five consecutive weeks of increases in the front-month contract price.
Pizza company stocks
Shares of Pizza Hut parent Yum! Brands Inc. closed out the first week of the New Year at $75.09, nearly a dollar higher than $74.11 the week prior. The company hit a new 52-week high in November, at $78.68. Its 52-week low was in early February 2013, at $59.68.
Domino's finished last week at $68.94, down from $70.68 the week prior. DPZ hit a new 52-week high in December, at $71.17. Its 52-week low was $44.38 a year ago.
After a stock split, Papa John's shares finished last week at $45.32, from $44.97 adjusted the week prior. PZZA hit a 52-week high of $46.90 earlier last week. Its low of $24.94 was a year ago.
CEC Entertainment Inc., parent company of Chuck E. Cheese restaurants, closed out last week at $44.40, from $44.15 the week prior. The company's 52-week-high was in November at $48.30. Its annual low was a year ago at $28.95.
Pizza Inn Holdings closed out last week at $8.09, down from $8.22 the week prior. The company's 52-week-high was $9.18 in May. It traded as low as $3.03 a year ago.
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Alicia has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with FastCasual.com, QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.