Commodities: Heart-dropping pre-Valentine's Day losses for pizza brands in Wall Street sell-off

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Heart-dropping pre-Valentine's Day losses for pizza brands in Wall Street sell-off

There wasn't a lot of love being shown toward pizza operators in either Wall Street or commodities trading last week. A largely business-hostile stock market sell-off preceded this week's annual celebration of love, Valentine's Day.

In fact, loving thoughts were probably few and far between for pizza restaurateurs Friday after the stock markets pummeled the values of all four pizza brands monitored by Pizza Marketplace. And just to rub salt in the wound, commodity prices also showed little love toward the pizza industry last week as cheese and gas prices sailed upward. 

After a few weeks of steadily declining cheese prices, trading last week turned that trend around with steadily rising prices through the week. Friday, the commodity was back up above $1.50, closing the week at $1.51 — up five cents from the previous week's closing value. 

Compared to the previous week, cash bids for wheat were mixed. The next round of USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate reports were released Thursday and were the main fuel for end-of-week trading. U.S. wheat ending stocks were also increased from 989 million to 1.009 billion bushels, based on a 25 million bushel decrease in export estimates.  

Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein, rail bid was 2 1/2 cents lower, at $5.49 1/2 to $6.44 1/2 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 5 to 7 cents higher, at $4.56 to $4.73 per bushel. Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein, rail, was 3 3/4 cents lower to 18 1/4 cents higher, at $7.13 to $7.40 per bushel. Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was 3 cents lower to 6 cents higher, at $5.30 to $5.50 per bushel.

Vehicle fuel

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations for the report week ending Wednesday, Feb. 7. The Henry Hub spot price fell from $3.21/MMBtu last Wednesday to $2.73/MMBtu.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the March 2018 contract price fell 29 cents, from $2.995/MMBtu last Wednesday to $2.702/MMBtu yesterday.

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 119 billion cubic feet for the week ending Feb. 2. Working natural gas stocks are 2,078 Bcf, which is 19 percent lower than the year-ago level and 16 percent lower than the five-year (2013–2017) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, fell 41 cents, averaging $7.32/MMBtu for the week ending Feb. 7. The prices of natural gasoline, ethane, propane, butane, and isobutane fell by 3, 14, 1, 4, and 10 percent, respectively.

According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Tuesday, Jan. 30, the natural gas rig count decreased by seven to 181. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by six to 765. The total rig count decreased by one, and it now stands at 946.

Pizza company stocks
Last week's stock market sell-off meant a painful drop in value for the brands monitored weekly by Pizza Marketplace. For instance, Domino's fell from $214.38 at the previous Friday's close to $206.09 last Friday — a hefty $8.29 loss. 

Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands dropped to $79.31 at the close Friday, down from $82.63 at the previous week's close. 

After making welcome gains in recent weeks, Papa John's erased much of that progress to close Friday at $57.11, down from $61.17 the previous week.

Papa Murphy's executives probably joined the leadership of the previous three brands at the bar Friday after its stock value fell from $5.18 the previous week to $4.73 last Friday at the close. 

Illustration: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Dough, Financial News

Companies: Papa John's, Papa Murphy's, Yum! Brands, Pizza Hut, Domino's

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 and 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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