Commodities: Papa John’s gets another scoop of 'Rocky Road'

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Papa John’s gets another scoop of 'Rocky Road'

Most pizza operators fared pretty well last week in both the commodities markets and on the stock market. Papa John's remains the exception, continuing a steady decline in its share price even after posting a quasi-apology for its CEO's controversial comments three weeks that NFL player's protests were having a negative impact on Papa John's sales. 

Last week, the brand said on Twitter that John Schnatter's comments "were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive. That definitely was not our intention … We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change. We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both."

Thus far, investors aren't buying the explanation — or stock in Papa John's, lately. 

A graph charting U.S. cheese prices in the last few weeks would look a little like a heart attack victim's EKG, with sporadic and steep spikes and subsequent falls. Last week continued the trend, as prices fell back to September levels, settling at $1.62 Friday — down more than a dime from earlier in the week. 

Wheat export sales totaled 19.1 million bushels, with shipments totaling 10.9 million bushels. On trading prices for wheat, the trend was lower, from 5 to 27 cents lower.

Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 12–22 cents lower, at $4.62–$5.92 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 7–8 cents lower, at $4.29–$4.36 per bushel. Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14–14.5 percent protein rail, was 27 3/4 cents lower to 17 1/4 cents higher, at $7.45 1/4–$8.15 1/4 per bushel.  

Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was steady to 5 1/2 cents lower, at $5.19 1/2–$5.35 per bushel.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations this report week (Wednesday, Nov. 8 to Wednesday, Nov. 15). The Henry Hub spot price fell from $3.15 per million British thermal units last Wednesday to $3.11/MMBtu yesterday. At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the December 2017 contract price fell 9 cents from $3.175/MMBtu last Wednesday to $3.080/MMBtu yesterday. 

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 18 billion cubic feet for the week ending Nov. 10. Working natural gas stocks are 3,772 Bcf, which is 7 percent less than the year-ago level and 3 percent lower than the five-year (2012–16) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose 3 cents, averaging $8.26/MMBtu for the week ending Nov. 15. The price of ethane fell 3 percent. The price of propane, butane, and isobutane rose by 1, 3 and 3 percent, respectively. The price of natural gasoline remained flat week over week.

According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Friday, Nov. 10, the natural gas rig count remained flat at 169. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by 9 to 738. The total rig count increased by 9 and now stands at 907.

Pizza company stocks
After a tough couple of weeks, pizza powerhouse brand, Domino's, rebounded last week with price gains the week before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Shares rose more than $5 over last week's trading to settle in at $178.65 at the close Friday. That's $5.32 higher than the previous week's close of $173.33.

Things weren't as rosy on the Pizza Hut side of the street; parent company Yum Brands closed slightly off at $78.60 Friday, down from $79.59 the week before at the close.

And, as previously mentioned Papa John's share price continued to drop, settling at $57.49 on Nov. 17, down $2.04 from the previous Friday's close at $59.53.

Finally, take-and-bake brand, Papa Murphy's continue to clip along with a gain of 28 cents over the week's trading. That brand closed Friday at $5.98, up from $5.70 the previous week. 

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Dough, Equipment & Supplies, Financial Management, Financial News, Food Cost 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 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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