Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research report report published on Thursday. They currently have $82.00 price target on the stock.

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.”

A number of other brokerages also recently commented on PZZA. Stephens lifted their price target on shares of Papa John’s International from $90.00 to $95.00 and gave the stock an overweight rating in a report on Wednesday, August 2nd. BTIG Research reiterated a buy rating and set a $100.00 price target on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Tuesday, August 29th. KeyCorp reiterated an equal weight rating on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Tuesday, June 20th. Jefferies Group LLC restated a hold rating and issued a $83.00 target price on shares of Papa John’s International in a report on Friday, July 14th. Finally, Citigroup Inc. started 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 for the company. One 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 company currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $89.00.

Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA) opened at 72.96 on Thursday. The firm has a market capitalization of $2.66 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 25.41 and a beta of 0.51. The firm has a 50-day moving average of $76.03 and a 200 day moving average of $77.28. Papa John’s International has a 12-month low of $70.73 and a 12-month 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 EPS for the quarter, topping analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.64 by $0.01. The business had revenue of $434.78 million during 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 company’s quarterly revenue was up 2.8% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the previous year, the firm posted $0.61 earnings per share. On average, equities analysts predict that Papa John’s International will post $2.86 EPS for the current year.

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Papa John’s International announced that its board has initiated a share repurchase plan on Tuesday, August 1st that authorizes the company to repurchase $500.00 million in shares. This repurchase authorization authorizes the company to repurchase up to 198% of its stock through open market purchases. Stock repurchase plans are typically an indication 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 shares were sold at an average price of $75.08, for a total value of $692,087.44. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 35,650 shares in the company, valued at $2,676,602. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available through the SEC website. 27.70% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

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

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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