Even in bad economic times, people have to eat, and that's been good for Domino's Pizza, CEO Patrick Doyle told CNBC Wednesday.
"The consumer is still digging back out of the recessionso we’ve got to give them good value," Doyle said. "That isn't going to change."
The U.S. consumer is "getting marginally better, which is a net positive for us," he said. "I think we do pretty well through recession, but employed people eat more pizza than unemployed people."
The same is true in Europe, he said. "Even as some things have slowed down over the last few years...our business held up very, very well," he said, although he admitted "we felt it in Greece a little bit."
But Domino's has "a long runway for growth in international," and has a natural hedge against slow sales in Europe or the U.S. thanks to the breadth of its international reach — 5,000 franchised stores outside the U.S., with the U.K. and India among its largest markets, Doyle pointed out.
Domino's has generated a lot of free cash flow, Doyle said, and the company has been using that cash to buy back stock, pay dividends and pay down its debt.
"We do the math as any investor would and whatever’s going to generate the best returns for shareholders, that’s what we’re going to do," Doyle said.