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The Ratings Game: Who doesn’t like pizza? Domino’s and Papa John’s have global possibilities

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Everyone around the world likes pizza, says Kalinowski Equity Research, which raises global expansion possibilities for pizza chains Domino’s Pizza Inc. and Papa John’s International Inc.

“In general, the appeal of pizza is near-universal — after all, pizza consists of bread, cheese (almost always), and whatever toppings (if any) you want to add to that,” Mark Kalinowski wrote in a note.

In a late June note, Kalinowski discussed Domino’s
DPZ,
+0.09%

prospects for expansion in Japan. The pizza chain opened 126 locations in the country, bringing the total to 800, with a goal of 1,000.

“More or less, the appeal internationally for Domino’s is more generally an appeal for carryout and delivery of pizza, and we expect that appeal to continue to grow in coming years,” Kalinowski said.

See: Papa John’s aims to hire 20,000 during National Hiring Week event

More recently, Kalinowski looked at Papa John’s
PZZA,
+0.65%
,
which has a base of operations in London, and expanded its partnership with Drake Food Service International to add hundreds of locations across Latin America, Spain, Portugal and the U.K.

“While Domino’s likely will remain the international market share leader in this regard, Papa John’s should also enjoy solid international growth in coming years.”

Kalinowski rates Papa John’s stock buy with a $144 price target. Domino’s is rated buy with a $534 price target.

Papa John’s Chief Executive Robert Lynch talked about the potential addition of many locations on the earnings call earlier this month.

Also: Shake Shack to invest more than $10 million in workers, with some high-level salaries reaching $115,000

“Our new development team and infrastructure have moved quickly to meet the dramatic rise in interest from well-financed and experienced franchisees, both current and new, ” he said, according to a FactSet transcript.

“We’re very excited about a number of upcoming domestic and international deals with new franchisees, who bring deep financial resources and operating experience.”

BTIG analysts took note of Papa John’s expansion plans.

“We expect additional development deals to bolster not only international growth, but North America as well, given the considerable sales and unit economic gains achieved over the past year,” analysts led by Peter Saleh.

“We believe Papa John’s remains in the middle-stages of its turnaround and expect several of the longer-term levers we have discussed in the past like unit development, margin expansion and higher leverage to begin unfolding.”

MKM Partners also highlighted the potential for more Papa John’s stores, but maintained its neutral stock rating.

“The strategic and operational initiatives continue to take hold for this growing challenger pizza brand, but owing to its near-peak valuation, we are left to sit idly by with our neutral rating.”

MKM has a $120 price target for Papa John’s.

Papa John’s stock has gained 51.6% for the year to date. Domino’s is up 37.6%. And the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-0.37%

has run up 18.1%.

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