Papa John's sales hit record as coronavirus fuels pizza binge

Sales were still shy of Wall Street's expectations

Papa John’s International Inc. garnered record sales in the three months through June as customers chowed down on pizza while stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The Louisville, Kentucky-based pizza chain operator and franchiser reported second-quarter sales spiked 15 percent from a year ago to a record $460.6 million, but that missed the $467.5 million that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting.

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Papa John’s earned a quarterly profit of $20.6 million, or 48 cents per share on an adjusted basis, outpacing the 45 cents that analysts were anticipating.

The growth surge enabled the pizza chain to hire more than 20,000 workers during the quarter, said CEO Rob Lynch, who anticipates adding another 10,000 in the three months through September -- a rarity in a year marked by spiking unemployment due to lockdowns.

"These efforts position Papa John’s solidly to continue meeting the needs of our customers who face continued challenges from COVID-19," he added, "and to drive long-term sustainable loyalty to our brand long after the current pandemic."

Comparable system-wide sales, or revenue from both franchised and company-owned restaurants open at least a year, spiked 28 percent in North America and 5.3 percent overseas.

That strength has continued into the third quarter as preliminary comparable sales for July were up 30 percent in North America and 14 percent internationally.


Papa John's shares rose 57 percent this year through Wednesday, outperforming the S&P 500's 3 percent gain.