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A Tale of Two Pizzas

Different pizza companies, different ingredients.

Pizza Inn (Nasdaq: PZZI  ) and California Pizza Kitchen (Nasdaq: CPKI  ) are tossing to different beats at the moment. Last night, Pizza Inn posted a wider fourth-quarter loss on slumping sales, while CPK informed investors that things are going better than expected.

It'd be tough to confuse one concept with the other. Pizza Inn offers bargain-priced buffets at its larger eateries. Its smaller units specialize in carryout and delivery. CPK would feel more at home with traditional casual-dining players like Darden's (NYSE: DRI  ) Olive Garden, given CPK's fancier pastas, gourmet pizzas, and higher spending per guest.

At its larger units, Pizza Inn would compete with Cici's or Yum! Brands' (NYSE: YUM  ) Pizza Hut. The smaller locations go head to head with Little Caesars, Domino's (NYSE: DPZ  ) , and Papa John's (Nasdaq: PZZA  ) .

If that sounds like a lot of competition for Pizza Inn, it may explain why comps slipped by 3.7% for the quarter, and why the company is losing some of its franchised units.

The sluggish report contrasted healthy preliminary third-quarter results from CPK. Thanks to a 5.6% spike in comps, the company is now looking for earnings to rise roughly 20% for the period. It's a welcome surprise, even if the company has already upped its guidance in every single quarter this year.

So how do you like your pizza stocks? As Pizza Inn and CPK are showing us, the toppings can taste completely different.

For more mouthwatering toppings on CPK, check out:

Just like pizza toppings, no two Fools' investing preferences are exactly alike. Find the flavor of financial advice that best suits your tastes with a free 30-day trial to one of ourFoolish newsletters.

Longtime Fool contributorRick Munarrizalways seems to have a restaurant stock or two in his portfolio, even if he does not own any of the stocks in this article. He is a member of theRule Breakersnewsletter team. The Fool has adisclosure policy.

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