Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

Analyst Upgrades Papa John's Because Growing Civil Unrest Means More Pizza Deliveries

Top-line growth with two-topping pizzas.

Papa John's International Inc. is poised to perform well as civil and political disruptions ahead of a contentious U.S. election prompt Americans to stay in rather than eat out, according to KeyBanc Analyst Chris O'Cull.

The analyst upgraded the stock to "overweight" from "sector weight" and upped his price target to $80, which is the highest among analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

On the heels of this upgrade, the stock is up more than 3 percent as of 11:00 a.m. New York time: 

PZZA US Equity (Papa John's Inte 2016-07-20 11-02-25
Source: Bloomberg

"After speaking with several large operators and industry contacts, we believe the recent decline in casual dining restaurant segment fundamentals—traffic down 3-5 percent the past several weeks—may be the result of consumers eating more at home amid the current political/social backdrop, which we believe could last through the November election," he writes. "We do not believe the consumer has 'entrenched,' but has likely shifted more in favor of convenience, benefiting pizza delivery operators like Papa John's."

While Americans may be bitterly divided on partisan lines, O'Cull thinks inexpensive Italian fare is something that transcends political affiliations.

This temporary trend towards eating in will prompt a wave of upward earnings-per-share revisions among the analyst community, which should buoy the stock.

The company is slated to report earnings after the market closes on Aug. 2.

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