Commodities: Gas prices climb, Papa Murphy's value declines

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Gas prices climb, Papa Murphy's value declines

The good news at the end of this first month of 2018 is that commodity and pizza stocks prices are both breaking in favor of the pizza restaurateur, generally. The bad news is ever-rising gas prices and, for take-and-bake brand Papa Murphy's, ever-falling stock prices. 

The cheese market lately has had more ups and downs than the Rockies, last week falling again to $1.47 Friday at the close of trading, down a dime from the previous week's closing price of $1.57. 

Compared with last week, cash bids for wheat trended 9 1/2 cents lower to 10 cents higher.  Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein rail bid was 4 1/2 to 9 1/2 cents lower, at $5.20–$6.17 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 2 to 9 cents higher, at $4.34–$4.37 per bushel.  Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14.0 to 14.5 percent protein rail, at $7.15 1/4–$7.10 1/4 per bushel has no comparison for the week.  

Portland U.S. Soft White wheat rail was steady to 10 cents higher, at $5.30–$5.32 per bushel.

Gasoline and diesel fuel

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations for the week ending Wednesday, Jan. 24. The Henry Hub spot price fell from $3.87 per million British thermal units last Wednesday to $3.56/MMBtu Jan. 24.
At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the February 2018 contract price rose 28 cents, from $3.232/MMBtu to $3.509/MMBtu last Wednesday.

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 288 billion cubic feet for the week ending Jan. 19. Working natural gas stocks are 2,296 Bcf, which is 18 percent lower than the year-ago level and 17 percent lower than the five-year (2013–17) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, fell 5 cents, averaging $7.98/MMBtu for the week ending Jan. 24. The price of ethane, butane, and isobutane fell 1, 1 and 3 percent, respectively. The price of natural gasoline and propane remained flat week-over-week.

According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Tuesday, Jan. 16, the natural gas rig count increased by two to 189. The number of oil-directed rigs fell by five to 747. The total rig count decreased by three, and now stands at 936.

Pizza company stocks

When it comes to share prices, these times are just about perfect for big names like Domino's and Papa John's, whose stock values have grown steadily for a number of weeks now. But if you're a smaller take-and-bake company with some recent media attention over debt load — Papa Murphy's, for instance — 2018 is starting out to be a year of struggle. 

Domino's, on the other hand, added $3.24 in share value over the last week, closing Friday at $216.78. Meanwhile, Yum Brands, parent company of Domino's competitor Pizza Hut, has also seen significant gains in stock value, and closed the week at $86.20, up nicely from $83.31 the week previous.

And Papa John's is back to halcyon days, closing Friday at $65.39, a healthy gain over the previous week's close of  $62.75. 

But — and you knew there had to be a "but" — there's no cause to celebrate at Papa Murphy's, where stock values have been on a downward trend. Shares closed Friday at $5.34, a relatively substantial drop from the previous week's closing price of $5.53.

Photo: iStock

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

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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