Commodities: Stock prices pumped up, but pump prices siphon gains

Commodities: Stock prices pumped up, but pump prices siphon gains

What a nice week last week was for pizza brands, many of which soared in value right along with the Dow, which hit a record high of 25,000. While that might have stolen some of the thunder from commodities trading, the publicly traded pizza brands monitored by this site fared well. But it's likely that a lot of pizza restaurateurs will be diverting those stock price gains into losses at the fuel pump, after gas prices hit their highest new year average cost in four years.

Cheese prices returned to their pre-Christmas rate after rising to as much as $1.54 to finish out 2017. By the following Friday, though, prices had dropped back down to their preholiday price of less than $1.50. 

Compared with the previous week, cash bids for wheat were steady to 13 cents higher. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 13 cents higher, at $4.74 3/4 to $6.33 3/4 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 6 to 8 cents higher, at $4.34 to $4.46 per bushel. Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14 to 14.5 percent protein rail, was $7.57 3/4 per bushel. Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was steady to 3/4 cent lower, at $5.25 to $5.30 per bushel.

Gasoline and diesel fuel
The start of 2018 brought higher gas prices. According to AAA, New Year's prices currently are at their highest since the start of 2014, when they kicked off above $3. 

Drivers in the northeast, south and Midwest U.S., in fact, have seen gas prices jump as much as 13 cents in just a week. 

 Regular   Mid-gradePremiumDiesel  E85

Current Average

$2.492   $2.78$3.03$2.91$2.07

Yesterday Average

$2.49 $2.78$3.03$2.90$2.07

Week-ago Average


Month-ago Average


Year-ago Average


Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices rose at most locations for the report week ending Jan. 3, as cold weather affected much of the country. The Henry Hub spot price rose from $2.75 per million British thermal units last Wednesday to $6.88/MMBtu Jan. 3.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the January 2018 contract expired Wednesday at $3.008/MMBtu. The February 2018 contract price increased 28 cents week-to-week, closing at $3.008/MMBtu yesterday.

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 206 billion cubic feet for the week ending Dec. 29. Working natural gas stocks are 3,126 Bcf, 6 percent less than the year-ago level and 6 percent lower than the five-year (2012-2016) average for the week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose 12 cents, averaging $8.49/MMBtu for the week ending Jan. 3. The prices of natural gasoline, ethane, propane, and isobutane rose 1, 8, 1 and 2 percent, respectively. The price of butane fell 2 percent.

Pizza company stocks
What a difference a year can make for a pizza brand. A review of the last year's ebbs and flows for the four brands monitored by this site shows huge gains for Domino's, and to a lesser degree for Pizza Hut parent, Yum brands. On the flip side, Papa John's registered a fall from greater profitability, while Papa Murphy's remained relatively steady. 

Last January, for instance, Domino's shares were selling at $167.18, soaring as high as $218 in May. On Friday, the brand closed at $200.30, up $12.62 from the previous week.

Meanwhile, Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands closed at $82.84, up from $81.62 the previous Friday, and far above the prices the brand was fetching in April when its stock sold in the $63 range. 

Meanwhile, Papa John's shares, which rose as high as $86.01 in February, closed last Friday at $58.77 in the ongoing wake of the Schnatter-NFL comment debacle. This price represented a slight comeback from the previous week when it closed at $56.10. 

Finally, take-and-bake brand Papa Murphy's closed up a dime from the previous week, settling at $5.62 before last Friday's close. That's well above the $3.96 share price the brand commanded in March, but slightly below the November peak around $6.29. 

Photo: iStock

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

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