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 brokerage presently has a $82.00 target price on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s price target suggests a potential upside of 12.44% 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. However, higher costs, negative currency translation and a challenging sales environment in the U.S. restaurant space raises concern. Nevertheess its strong free cash flow position and willingness to return wealth to shareholders through buybacks and dividends raises confidence. Though Papa John’s shares have underperformed the industry in the last year, positive estimate revisions reflect analyst optimism.”

Several other research analysts also recently issued reports on PZZA. Citigroup Inc. started coverage on Papa John’s International in a research note on Monday. They issued a “buy” rating and a $90.00 price objective for the company. BTIG Research reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $100.00 price objective on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Tuesday, August 29th. KeyCorp reaffirmed an “equal weight” rating on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Tuesday, June 20th. Jefferies Group LLC reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $83.00 price objective on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Friday, July 14th. Finally, Instinet reaffirmed a “neutral” rating and issued a $78.00 price objective (down previously from $84.00) on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Monday, July 31st. One equities research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, three have issued a hold rating and five have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Hold” and a consensus target price of $89.00.

Papa John’s International (PZZA) traded down 0.73% during midday trading on Thursday, reaching $72.40. 106,394 shares of the company’s stock traded hands. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $76.03 and a 200 day moving average of $77.28. Papa John’s International has a 52-week low of $70.73 and a 52-week high of $90.49. The company has a market cap of $2.64 billion, a P/E ratio of 25.22 and a beta of 0.51.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) last posted its earnings results 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 during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $438.51 million. Papa John’s International had a net margin of 6.13% and a return on equity of 919.82%. The business’s revenue for the quarter was up 2.8% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $0.61 earnings per share. On average, analysts anticipate that Papa John’s International will post $2.86 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

Papa John’s International declared that its board has initiated a stock buyback plan on Tuesday, August 1st that permits the company to repurchase $500.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization permits 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 stock is undervalued.

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In other news, SVP Timothy C. Ohern sold 9,218 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, August 31st. The stock was sold at an average price of $75.08, for a total value of $692,087.44. Following the completion of the transaction, the senior vice president now owns 35,650 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $2,676,602. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this link. Corporate insiders own 27.70% of the company’s stock.

A number of large investors have recently added to or reduced their stakes in PZZA. Waldron LP acquired a new stake in Papa John’s International during the 1st quarter valued at approximately $289,000. Profund Advisors LLC increased its position in Papa John’s International by 0.6% during the 1st quarter. Profund Advisors LLC now owns 4,278 shares of the company’s stock valued at $342,000 after purchasing an additional 25 shares during the period. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund increased its position in Papa John’s International by 1.1% during the 1st quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 9,320 shares of the company’s stock valued at $746,000 after purchasing an additional 100 shares during the period. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its position in Papa John’s International by 151.5% during the 1st quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 145,566 shares of the company’s stock valued at $11,651,000 after purchasing an additional 87,697 shares during the period. Finally, Great West Life Assurance Co. Can increased its position in Papa John’s International by 3.4% during the 1st quarter. Great West Life Assurance Co. Can now owns 16,085 shares of the company’s stock valued at $1,287,000 after purchasing an additional 534 shares during the period. 83.77% of the stock is owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

Papa John’s International Company Profile

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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