Commodities: Good news in gas prices, not-so-good news in stock prices

| by S.A. Whitehead
Commodities: Good news in gas prices, not-so-good news in stock prices

It was a "bad news, good news" kind of week for most pizza restaurateurs, with some encouragement from gas prices which appear to be finally leveling out over the last month. But, in trading, most brands have seen stock value drop over the last month, aside from Domino's. 

Cheese prices are cycling back up above $1.50 as the month nears its end, closing last Friday at $1.54, a level last reach at the end of January. The closing rate on Friday was up 3 cents from the prior week's close, at $1.51. 

Compared with the previous week, cash bids for wheat were mixed. Last week's export sales and shipments totaled 11.4 million bushels and 18 million bushels, respectively. All export sales and shipments data for last week could be viewed as bearish, according to the USDA.   

Wheat prices ranged from 11 1/2 cents lower to 15 1/2 cents higher over the week's trading. Kansas City U.S. No. 1 Hard Red Winter, ordinary protein, rail bid was 11 1/2 cents lower to 3 1/2 cents higher, at $5.53–$6.33 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 5 cents higher, at $4.61–$4.78 per bushel.  

Minneapolis and Duluth U.S. No. 1 Dark Northern Spring, 14 to 14.5 percent protein, rail, was 3 1/2 to 15 1/2 cents higher, at $7.28 1/2–$7.43 1/2 per bushel.  Portland U.S. Soft White wheat, rail was steady to 2 cents higher, at $5.30–$5.52 per bushel.

Vehicle fuel

Natural gas
Natural gas spot prices fell at most locations for the report week (Wednesday, Feb. 7 to Wednesday, Feb. 14). The Henry Hub spot price fell from $2.73 per million British thermal units last Wednesday to $2.51/MMBtu yesterday.

At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the March 2018 contract price fell 12 cents from $2.702/MMBtu last Wednesday to $2.587/MMBtu yesterday.

Net withdrawals from working gas totaled 194 billion cubic feet for the week ending Feb. 9. Working natural gas stocks are 1,884 Bcf, which is 23 percent less than the year-ago level and 19 percent lower than the five-year (2013–2017) average for this week.

The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, fell 8 cents, averaging $7.23/MMBtu for the week ending Feb. 14. The price of natural gasoline, butane, and isobutane fell 6, 5 and 3 percent, respectively. The price of ethane and propane rose 3 and 1 percent, respectively.

According to Baker Hughes, for the week ending Tuesday, Feb. 6, the natural gas rig count increased by 3 to 184. The number of oil-directed rigs rose by 26 to 791. The total rig count increased by 29, and it now stands at 975. This increase was the largest weekly increase in total rigs since January 2017.

Pizza company stocks
As mentioned, it's been a pretty lousy last 30 days for the four major pizza companies monitored here weekly. But Domino's has managed to buck the downward trend and shown healthy growth in value, closing Friday at $220.74 on the New York Stock Exchange. That's up substantially from the previous Friday's close at $206.09 — and is even above the share price just before the market-wide selloff nearly two weeks ago. 

Over the past 30 days, other brands monitored by Pizza Marketplace did not fare so well, although some did see last week. Pizza Hut parent Yum Brands failed to turn in a gain for either the last week or last month, falling from $79.31 at the Friday, Feb. 9, close to $78.25 last Friday. 

Competitor Papa John's gained slightly on the week, closing at $57.32 — up 20 cents from the previous week's price of $57.11. However, that's still down over the last month of trading activity. 

Papa Murphy's was also down for the month, but managed to gain 46 cents in value last week, closing Friday at $5.19, up from the previous week's selloff-singed price of $4.73.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Cheese, Customer Service / Experience, Delivery, Dough, Financial News

Companies: Papa John's, Papa Murphy's, Yum! Brands, 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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