Commodities: Up, up and up ... mostly

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Up, up and up ... mostly

Pizza-making is as profitable as ever these days, at least for the publicly traded brands watched here weekly. Again this past trading week, three of the four brands watched by this site on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ made nice gains in value. And that's a good thing, because just about every commodity pizza restaurateurs need is also doing well in trading, with values for all but wheat showing appreciable gains over the week. The good news is that vehicle fuel prices appear to be leveling off a little. 

After nearly two months in the cellar, cheese prices last week rose to slightly above the early December levels. The commodity average of $1.57 at the close of transactions Friday, just a penny more than the Dec. 1 price of $1.56. 

Compared with the previous week, wheat was mixed, at 3/4–7 cents lower. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter ordinary protein rail bid was 3/4–8 3/4 cents lower at $5.24 1/2–$6.26 1/2 per bushel. A 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 8–10 cents lower, at $4.25–$4.35 per bushel. Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14 to 14.5 percent protein rail was not quoted.  Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was 1 1/4–7 cents lower, at $5.20–$5.32 per bushel.

Gasoline and diesel fuel
Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices rose at most locations during the report week (Wednesday, Jan. 10 to Wednesday, Jan. 17). The Henry Hub spot price rose from $3.11 per million British thermal units last Wednesday to $3.87/MMBtu yesterday. At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the February 2018 contract price rose 33 cents from $2.906/MMBtu last Wednesday to $3.232/MMBtu yesterday.

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 183 Bcf for the week ending Jan. 12. Working natural gas stocks are 2,584 Bcf, which is 12 percent less than the year-ago level and 12 percent lower than the five-year (2013–2017) average for the week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose 5 cents, averaging $8.31/MMBtu for the week ending Jan. 17. The price of propane fell 4 percent. The price of ethane, butane, and isobutane rose 9, 6 and 3 percent, respectively. The price of natural gasoline remained flat.

According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Tuesday, Jan. 9, the natural gas rig count increased by five to 187. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by 10, to 752. The total rig count increased by 15, and now stands at 939.

Pizza company stocks
For most of the brands monitored by this site, stock prices have started off on a rosy note in 2018. Again this week, all but one brand reported gains in trading, signaling that investors are confident not only about the brands, but also about the pizza business in general. 

Powerhouse Domino's Pizza continued its weeks-long price escalation to close Friday at $213.54, up from $211.15 the previous week. Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands also rose further last week, up 19 cents on the week to $83.81 at the close Friday.

Even beleaguered Papa John's has returned to the game following the departure of controversial former CEO John Schnatter. Last week, the brand continue to trade up, closing Friday at $62.75, compared with $61.04 at the previous week's close.

Take-and-bake brand, Papa Murphy's was the only loser last week, closing at $5.53, down 21 cents from the previous week's closing price of $5.74. 

Photo: iStock

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

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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