Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “strong sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report issued on Friday.

According to Zacks, “Papa John’s posted positive comps in both domestic and international markets in the past several quarters. Going ahead, comps growth could be maintained due to menu innovation and value offers. The company’s commitment to provide quality food should appeal to health conscious guests. It is also focusing on digital innovation to attract customers and drive growth and efficiency. Its strategic partnerships, large scale expansion plans and increased focus on franchising bode well too. Strong free cash flow position, buybacks and dividends also raise confidence. Papa John’s has a positive record of earnings surprises in recent quarters and estimates have been going up ahead of its Q2 earnings release. However, shares of the company underperformed the Zacks categorized Retail–Restaurants industry year to date. Higher costs, negative currency translation and a challenging sales environment in the restaurant space remain concerns too.”

PZZA has been the topic of a number of other research reports. BidaskClub lowered Papa John’s International from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a report on Friday, June 30th. Stephens restated an “overweight” rating and issued a $90.00 price objective (down previously from $100.00) on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Monday, June 26th. Jefferies Group LLC set a $83.00 price objective on Papa John’s International and gave the company a “hold” rating in a report on Wednesday, April 19th. KeyCorp reiterated an “equal weight” rating on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Tuesday, June 20th. Finally, Longbow Research reiterated a “buy” rating and set a $95.00 price target on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Monday, May 22nd. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and four have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $88.00.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ PZZA) traded up 0.29% during midday trading on Friday, reaching $72.44. 111,118 shares of the company were exchanged. The firm’s 50 day moving average price is $78.84 and its 200-day moving average price is $81.03. Papa John’s International has a 52 week low of $66.89 and a 52 week high of $90.49. The stock has a market capitalization of $2.66 billion, a P/E ratio of 25.69 and a beta of 0.52.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) last announced its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, May 2nd. The company reported $0.77 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.74 by $0.03. The company had revenue of $449.27 million for the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $435.47 million. Papa John’s International had a return on equity of 11,469.18% and a net margin of 6.09%. During the same quarter last year, the firm posted $0.69 EPS. Equities analysts forecast that Papa John’s International will post $2.86 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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In related news, CFO Lance F. Tucker sold 4,051 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, May 12th. The shares were sold at an average price of $82.39, for a total value of $333,761.89. Following the sale, the chief financial officer now directly owns 25,522 shares in the company, valued at approximately $2,102,757.58. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link. Also, insider Steve M. Ritchie sold 10,396 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, May 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $80.00, for a total transaction of $831,680.00. Following the completion of the sale, the insider now owns 37,601 shares in the company, valued at $3,008,080. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders sold 20,447 shares of company stock worth $1,656,182. 27.70% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of PZZA. BlackRock Inc. raised its stake in shares of Papa John’s International by 13,761.9% in the first quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 3,080,947 shares of the company’s stock valued at $246,601,000 after buying an additional 3,058,721 shares during the period. FMR LLC raised its stake in shares of Papa John’s International by 35.9% in the fourth quarter. FMR LLC now owns 4,540,572 shares of the company’s stock valued at $388,583,000 after buying an additional 1,200,203 shares during the period. Wellington Management Group LLP raised its stake in shares of Papa John’s International by 370.5% in the first quarter. Wellington Management Group LLP now owns 1,270,817 shares of the company’s stock valued at $68,866,000 after buying an additional 1,000,709 shares during the period. TimesSquare Capital Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Papa John’s International by 197.9% in the first quarter. TimesSquare Capital Management LLC now owns 961,660 shares of the company’s stock valued at $76,971,000 after buying an additional 638,860 shares during the period. Finally, RidgeWorth Capital Management LLC raised its stake in shares of Papa John’s International by 1,545.8% in the second quarter. RidgeWorth Capital Management LLC now owns 673,151 shares of the company’s stock valued at $45,794,000 after buying an additional 632,251 shares during the period. Hedge funds and other institutional investors own 78.86% of the company’s stock.

About Papa John’s International

Papa John’s International, Inc (Papa John’s) operates and franchises pizza delivery and carryout restaurants and, in certain international markets, dine-in and delivery restaurants under the trademark Papa John’s. The Company operates through five segments: domestic Company-owned restaurants, North America commissaries, North America franchising, international operations and all other business units.

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Analyst Recommendations for Papa John`s International (NASDAQ:PZZA)

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