Commodities: Somebody must have hit replay ... but no complaints

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Somebody must have hit replay ... but no complaints

It was another nice week of pizza stock trading and largely lower commodity prices last week, almost an exact replay of the previous week's financial stats, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a single pizza restaurateur complaining about that. In fact, the only real cloud in this financial sky was again those ever-higher vehicle fuel costs thanks to both high demand and healthy inventory. 

Cheese prices are still in the basement, closing Friday at $1.46, down eight cents from the end of December and four cents from the price a week ago of $1.50. 

Wheat was mixed from 8 3/4 cents lower to 50 1/2 cents higher. Export sales and shipments of wheat totaled 2.6 mb and 10.6 mb.  All export figures could be viewed as bearish, and total shipments remain lower than a year ago.  

Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 1 1/2 to 50 1/2 cents higher from $5.25 1/4-$6.35 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 1 cent lower from $4.33-$4.45 per bushel.

Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein rail, was 3 3/4 to 8 3/4 cents lower from $7.49-$7.54 per bushel. Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was 2 to 3 1/4 cents higher from $5.27-$5.33 1/4 per bushel.

Gasoline and diesel fuel
Lots of demand and the inventory to meet it is fueling the seemingly infinitely rising price of vehicle fuel. Today's price of $2.53 for a gallon of regular unleaded is representative. That's a four-cent increase over the previous week's gas price, and 19 cents higher than a year ago when the price was $2.34 a gallon. 

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations this report week (Wednesday, Jan. 3 to Wednesday, Jan. 10). The Henry Hub spot price fell from $6.88/MMBtu last Wednesday to $3.11/MMBtu yesterday.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange (Nymex), the February 2018 contract price fell 10 cents, from $3.008/MMBtu last Wednesday to $2.906/MMBtu yesterday. Record-breaking net withdrawals from working gas totaled 359 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ending Jan.5. Working natural gas stocks are 2,767 Bcf, which is 12 percent lower than the year-ago level and 13 percent lower than the five-year (2013-17) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, fell by 22 cents, averaging $8.26/MMBtu for the week ending Jan. 10. The price of natural gasoline, propane, butane, and isobutane fell by 2, 3, 8 and 6 percent, respectively. The price of ethane rose by 7  percent. 

According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Tuesday, Jan. 2, the natural gas rig count remained flat at 182. The number of oil-directed rigs fell by five to 742. The total rig count decreased by five, and it now stands at 924.

Pizza company stocks

Another nice jump in stock price for Domino's Pizza, Inc. last week, put the brand at $211.15 Friday, up from $200.30, the week prior, which was also a bounce of about $12.62 from the previous week.

It was also a positive trading week for Pizza Hut parent company, Yum Brands, which closed Friday at $83.62, up from $82.84 which, like Domino's stock, was higher than the week previous.

At Papa John's, a couple of weeks after the announced departure of founder and CEO John Schnatter, the brand was again trading higher last week, closing at $61.04 last Friday, up nicely from the previous week's close of $58.77, but still nowhere near the brand's loftier days last February when the stock hit $86.01.

Cook-it-at-home brand, Papa Murphy's closed Friday at $5.74, also up from the previous week's close of $5.62. 

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Dough, Financial News, Food & Beverage, Food Cost Management, Operations Management

Companies: Papa John's, Papa Murphy's, 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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