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Papa John's eats analysts' profit forecasts for lunch thanks to this epic new pizza

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·2 min read
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Papa John's (PZZA) new stuffed crust pizza is fattening up the sales and profit lines for the fast food pizza giant. 

On Thursday, Papa John's served up sizzling first quarter sales on the back of its late 2020 launch of an "epic stuffed crust" pizza that took aim at Pizza Hut's long-time dominance in the category. Papa John's first quarter domestic and international same-store sales surged 23.3% and 27.1%, respectively. 

By comparison, Domino's Pizza had first quarter domestic sales growth of 13.4% and international growth of 11.8%. Over at noted stuffed crust pizza heavyweight Pizza Hut, first quarter U.S. same-store sales rose 16% and international increased 8%. 

"Epic stuffed crust has been a phenomenal success since its launch in North America at the end of December. It has exceeded our expectations and again demonstrated the power of Papa John's new innovation mindset," Papa John's CEO Rob Lynch told analysts on an earnings call. 

Lynch is banking on stuffed crust pizza to be the star of 2021 for Papa John's. 

"Epic stuffed crust has continued to bring in new customers. We have been promoting it now for over four months and we continue to see growth in that business and we're going to continue to double down on it and we'll continue to invest behind it. And so, that over-performance in Q1 gives us confidence that it's going to continue to drive incremental sales that we hadn't had in our initial forecast in Q2," Lynch added.

Here is how Papa John's performed compared to Wall Street estimates for the first quarter:

  • Net Sales: $511.7 million vs. $471 million

  • Adjusted Diluted EPS: $0.90 vs. $56

Papa John's shares rose 9% on Thursday's session. The stock is about 7% shy of its Feb. 8 all-time intraday high, according to Yahoo Finance Plus data.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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