| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Clocks not the only things 'springing ahead'

Just as we reset all our clocks to "spring forward" over the weekend, pizza stocks also spent the last trading week moving up in value for all four chains monitored here. Meanwhile, common pizza restaurant operational commodities were a mixed bag, with cheese and natural gas up in value, while vehicle fuel prices flattened out and wheat values dropped. 

After spiking to $1.60 at the start of trading last week, cheese prices settled down to close Friday at $1.57, up a cent from the previous week's close of $1.56, and a full 7 cents higher than last month at this time.  

Compared to last week, cash bids for wheat were mostly lower, according to the USDA. Wheat ranged from 17 1/2 cents lower to 15 cents higher. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein, rail bid, was 10 1/4 cents lower, at $6.08 1/4–6.23 1/4 per bushel.  

Kansas City U.S. No. 2 Soft Red winter rail bid was not quoted.  St. Louis truck U.S. No. 2 Soft Red Winter terminal bid was 11–16 cents lower, at $4.89-$5.07 per bushel.  

Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0–14.5 percent protein, rail, was 10 cents lower to 15 cents higher, at $7.69 3/4–$7.84 3/4 per bushel.  Portland U.S. Soft White wheat, rail, was steady to 17 1/2 cents lower, at $5.40–$5.78 per bushel.

Vehicle fuel

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices rose at most locations for the seven days ending March 7. The Henry Hub spot price rose from $2.61 per million British thermal units last Wednesday to $2.77 per MMBtu yesterday.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the April 2018 contract price rose 11 cents, from $2.667 per MMBtu last Wednesday to $2.777 per MMBtu. Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 57 billion cubic feet for the seven days ending March 2. Working natural gas stocks are 1,625 Bcf, which is 30 percent less than the year-ago level and 16 percent less than the five-year (2013–2017) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, fell 73 cents, averaging $7.18 per MMBtu for the period ending March 7. The price of propane, butane, and isobutane fell 17, 10 and 16 percent, respectively. The price of natural gas rose 5 percent. The price of ethane remained flat.

According to Baker Hughes, the natural gas rig count increased by two to 181 between Feb. 20 and Feb. 27. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by one to 800 — the highest level since April 2015. The total rig count increased by three, and now stands at 981.

Pizza company stocks
All four major pizza brand stocks monitored by this site last week had profitable days on the trading floor last week. Domino's closed Friday at $230.26, up $7.16 from the previous week's close. 

Pizza Hut parent, Yum Brands followed suit, gaining $3.15 in value over the week to close at $82.95 Friday afternoon. Even beleaguered Papa John's advanced last week, growing $1.12 in value over the trading week to close at $61.82. 

Finally, Papa Murphy's gained about four cents over the week's trading to close at $4.88 Friday at the closing bell. 

Photo: iStock

Topics: Cheese, Delivery, Dough, Financial News, Food & Beverage, Operations Management

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of Pizzamarketplace.com and QSRweb.com after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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