Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA) was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research report issued on Thursday. The firm currently has a $83.00 price target on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target would suggest a potential upside of 15.01% from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Papa John’s has been posting positive comps in both domestic and international markets over the past several quarters. Going forward, comps growth is likely to persist on the back of menu innovation and value offers. Its commitment to provide quality food is expected to continue appealing the health conscious customers. Increased focus on digital innovation may further aid in attracting customers and drive growth and efficiency. Strategic partnerships, large scale expansion plans and increased focus on franchising bode well too. Its strong free cash flow position and willingness to return wealth to shareholders through buybacks and dividends also raise confidence. However, higher costs, negative currency translation and a challenging sales environment in the U.S. restaurant space raises concern. Meanwhile, though Papa John’s shares have underperformed the industry in the last year, positive estimate revisions reflect analyst optimism.”

PZZA has been the topic of several other research reports. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $83.00 price target on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Friday, July 14th. KeyCorp reaffirmed an “equal weight” rating on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Tuesday, June 20th. Stephens reaffirmed an “overweight” rating and issued a $90.00 price target (down previously from $100.00) on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Monday, June 26th. Instinet reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and issued a $78.00 price target (down previously from $84.00) on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Monday, July 31st. Finally, BidaskClub downgraded shares of Papa John’s International from a “sell” rating to a “strong sell” rating in a report on Friday, June 30th. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the stock. Papa John’s International presently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average price target of $89.00.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) traded down 2.05% during midday trading on Thursday, hitting $72.17. 451,362 shares of the stock traded hands. Papa John’s International has a one year low of $70.73 and a one year high of $90.49. The company has a market cap of $2.63 billion, a P/E ratio of 25.14 and a beta of 0.51. The company’s 50 day moving average is $75.92 and its 200-day moving average is $77.41.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) last released its quarterly earnings data on Tuesday, August 1st. The company reported $0.65 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.64 by $0.01. The firm had revenue of $434.78 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $438.51 million. Papa John’s International had a net margin of 6.13% and a return on equity of 919.82%. The firm’s revenue was up 2.8% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the previous year, the firm earned $0.61 earnings per share. On average, equities research analysts forecast that Papa John’s International will post $2.86 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Papa John’s International announced that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase plan on Tuesday, August 1st that allows the company to repurchase $500.00 million in outstanding shares. This repurchase authorization allows the company to buy up to 198% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares repurchase plans are typically a sign that the company’s board of directors believes its shares are undervalued.

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In other Papa John’s International news, SVP Timothy C. Ohern sold 9,218 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Thursday, August 31st. The shares were sold at an average price of $75.08, for a total value of $692,087.44. Following the sale, the senior vice president now owns 35,650 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,676,602. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. 27.70% of the stock is owned by corporate insiders.

Large investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Meadow Creek Investment Management LLC raised its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 20.4% in the first quarter. Meadow Creek Investment Management LLC now owns 1,430 shares of the company’s stock valued at $114,000 after buying an additional 242 shares during the last quarter. Flinton Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 76.9% in the second quarter. Flinton Capital Management LLC now owns 1,840 shares of the company’s stock valued at $132,000 after buying an additional 800 shares during the last quarter. Glen Harbor Capital Management LLC raised its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 20.4% in the first quarter. Glen Harbor Capital Management LLC now owns 1,820 shares of the company’s stock valued at $146,000 after buying an additional 308 shares during the last quarter. Fifth Third Bancorp raised its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 11.3% in the first quarter. Fifth Third Bancorp now owns 2,112 shares of the company’s stock valued at $169,000 after buying an additional 215 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Victory Capital Management Inc. raised its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 55.0% in the first quarter. Victory Capital Management Inc. now owns 2,188 shares of the company’s stock valued at $175,000 after buying an additional 776 shares during the last quarter. 83.77% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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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