Papa John's earnings miss, weighed down by higher costs, but chain sees strong pizza demand

Key Points
  • Papa John's fell short of Wall Street's earnings estimates, but demand for its pizza remains high during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Worldwide, its same-store sales surged 15.5% in the quarter.
  • Employee bonuses and higher commodity costs weighed on its profits in the latest period.

In this article

Signage outside a Papa John's International pizza restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Papa John's on Thursday reported quarterly earnings that missed estimates as higher food costs, a new corporate office and employee bonuses weighed on profits despite high demand for its pizza during the pandemic.

The company's stock fell more than 7% in premarket trading.

Here's what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 40 cents adjusted vs. 46 cents expected
  • Revenue: $469.8 million vs. $467.9 million expected

The pizza chain reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $13.2 million, or 28 cents per share, up from a net loss of $2.1 million, or 18 cents per share, a year earlier.

It spent $6 million, or 12 cents per share, in the fourth quarter on its strategic reorganization, including opening a Georgia office. The company also paid out $2.7 million in end-of-year bonuses for its restaurant workers, shaving off 6 cents per share. Increased commodity costs also hit profits during the quarter.

Excluding reorganization costs, Papa John's earned 40 cents per share, missing the 46 cents per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Net sales rose 12.5% to $469.8 million, beating expectations of $467.9 million. Worldwide, its same-store sales surged 15.5% in the quarter.

North American same-store sales increased by 13.5%. Papa John's also raked in higher royalties from its franchisees because its operator assistance program, which began in the wake of the scandal that involved founder John Schnatter. International same-store sales climbed 21.4% in the quarter.

Papa John's opened 40 net new locations, primarily due to international openings. As of Dec. 27, about 65 of the company's 5,400 locations were temporarily closed due to government restrictions, primarily in Latin America and Europe.

The company also shared an update on its plans to open an office in Atlanta, saying it's on track to open by summer. Papa John's expects to spend $15 million to $20 million through 2021 related to the costs of adding the office, including employee severance, recruitment and relocation.

Papa John's declined to provide an outlook for its financial targets during 2021, citing the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Also Thursday, Domino's Pizza reported quarterly earnings that missed estimates.

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