Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA) from a buy rating to a hold rating in a report released on Tuesday morning.

According to Zacks, “Papa John’s shares have outpaced the industry in the last three months. The company 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. Meanwhile, its commitment to provide quality food is commendable and should continue appealing the health conscious customers. It is also focusing on digital innovation to attract new customers and drive growth and efficiency. Papa John’s strategic partnerships, large scale expansion plans and increased focus on franchising bode well too. The company’s 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 restaurant space remain concerns.”

A number of other equities analysts also recently commented on PZZA. Jefferies Group LLC reissued a hold rating and set a $83.00 price objective on shares of Papa John’s International in a research 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. Citigroup Inc. began coverage on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Monday, September 18th. They issued a buy rating and a $90.00 target price on the stock. Stephens reiterated an overweight rating and issued a $90.00 price target (down previously from $100.00) on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Monday, June 26th. Finally, Instinet reiterated a neutral rating and issued a $78.00 price target (down previously from $84.00) on shares of Papa John’s International in a research note on Monday, July 31st. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, five have issued a hold rating and four have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. The company presently has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $86.00.

Shares of Papa John’s International (PZZA) traded down 1.32% on Tuesday, hitting $69.68. 410,488 shares of the stock were exchanged. The stock has a market cap of $2.54 billion, a PE ratio of 24.27 and a beta of 0.50. The company’s 50 day moving average is $74.73 and its 200-day moving average is $77.03. Papa John’s International has a 52-week low of $68.70 and a 52-week high of $90.49.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, August 1st. The company reported $0.65 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of $0.64 by $0.01. The company had revenue of $434.78 million for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $438.51 million. Papa John’s International had a return on equity of 919.82% and a net margin of 6.13%. Papa John’s International’s revenue was up 2.8% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the business earned $0.61 EPS. Analysts predict that Papa John’s International will post $2.85 EPS for the current fiscal year.

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Papa John’s International announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a stock repurchase program on Tuesday, August 1st that allows the company to buyback $500.00 million in outstanding shares. This buyback authorization allows the company to reacquire up to 198% of its shares through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are generally a sign that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

In related news, SVP Timothy C. Ohern sold 9,218 shares of the business’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 transaction of $692,087.44. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now owns 35,650 shares in the company, valued at $2,676,602. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. 27.70% of the stock is owned by insiders.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in PZZA. Charter Trust Co. raised its holdings in Papa John’s International by 1.5% during the second quarter. Charter Trust Co. now owns 3,466 shares of the company’s stock worth $249,000 after purchasing an additional 50 shares in the last quarter. State Treasurer State of Michigan lifted its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 0.9% during the 2nd quarter. State Treasurer State of Michigan now owns 10,900 shares of the company’s stock worth $782,000 after buying an additional 100 shares during the last quarter. Mason Street Advisors LLC lifted its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 0.9% during the 1st quarter. Mason Street Advisors LLC now owns 12,502 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,001,000 after buying an additional 106 shares during the last quarter. State Board of Administration of Florida Retirement System lifted its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 0.7% during the 2nd quarter. State Board of Administration of Florida Retirement System now owns 18,227 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,308,000 after buying an additional 128 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Texas Permanent School Fund lifted its position in shares of Papa John’s International by 0.9% during the 2nd quarter. Texas Permanent School Fund now owns 19,327 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,387,000 after buying an additional 166 shares during the last quarter. Institutional investors own 83.77% 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.

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

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