Will Domino's Maintain Its Stellar Growth?

On the back of continued international growth, Domino's Pizza (NYSE: DPZ  )  registered an 18% rise in earnings per share for its latest quarter. With a year-over-year capital return of 31%, the restaurant chain has been one of the better buys in the restaurant industry. On the other hand, its peers Jack in the Box (NASDAQ: JACK  )  and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (NASDAQ: PLKI  )  provided year-over-year returns of 48% and 20%, respectively.

Will Domino's continue to grow in the future as well? Let's find out.

Quarterly earnings
In the first quarter, Domino's reported a profit of $40.5 million or $0.71 per share, up from $34.4 million or $0.59 per share in the year-ago quarter. Revenue also grew 8.9% to $453.9 million. Thomson Reuters reported that analysts expected earnings of $0.68 per share on revenue of $445 million.

Owing to higher food and commodity costs, the company's operating margin dropped 90 basis points to 30.2%.  

U.S. business
Domino's opened 14 domestic stores in the quarter and closed nine restaurants to bring its U.S. store count to 4,991. Same-store sales at U.S. locations climbed 4.9% with company-owned restaurants and franchise comps increasing by 1.5% and 5.2%, respectively. Due to higher commodity prices, Domino's supply chain margin rose 12.1% to $230.1 million. The U.S. supply chain business, which accounts for more than half of the company's total revenue, continued to make a significant contribution to its growth.  

International business
In the international market, comparable sales were up 7.4%. The company opened 109 units and shut down 12 stores, which brought the total store count to 5,997. 

With its pizza business not growing that much in the U.S., the company is looking elsewhere to multiply its profits. Thanks to the company's remarkable international growth, it is investing heavily in India, Japan, Africa, and Australia. During the quarter, the company opened its 700th store in India, its fastest-growing market. The company also opened its 300th store in Japan. Domino's expects a lot from its master franchisee in Australia, which has done a great job by offering great service and products. Plus, it has done excellent marketing in the country, which has helped keep the company's brand ahead of those of competitors.

In South Africa, Domino's has chosen TASTE Holdings as its new franchisee. Under the Scooters Pizza and St Elmo's Pizza brands, TASTE Holdings has around 150 pizza restaurants in the country. Most of these restaurants will become Domino's Pizza units in the next two years. This will give Domino's an entry into the southern region of Africa, which has an emerging consumer class, growing urbanization, and a modern retail sector. 

In an effort to grow its sales, Domino's is also working on improving its payment solutions. Domino's Android app will now accept payments through Google Wallet. Google Wallet is a free mobile payment system that enables customers to store credit cards, debit cards, and loyalty and gift cards on their mobile phones.

Jack in the Box and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
In the first quarter of fiscal 2014, Jack in the Box earned $0.75 per share after earning $0.59 per share in the year-ago quarter. This 27% increase in earnings resulted from strong same-store sales growth, higher margins, and lower overhead costs at Jack in the Box and Qdoba Mexican Grill.

Two months ago, the company introduced its two new Monster Taco flavors, Bacon Ranch and Nacho; the original Monster Tacos had gained so much popularity among customers that the company decided to add new flavors for them. Jack in the Box's year-to-date capital appreciation stands at 13%.

In the recent quarter, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen's comps for the U.S. market increased for the fifth consecutive quarter. Adjusted earnings came in at $1.43 per share, up 15% from the comparable quarter last year. The company has remodeled 60% of its restaurants in the new Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen image; 550 restaurants were remodeled during the quarter.

Recently, the company launched Louisiana Trios, where a customer can choose either three pieces of Bonafide Chicken, three Cajun Fish fillets, or three Handcrafted Tenders and also receive a Buttermilk Biscuit for just $3.99. So far, the deal has seen a lot of interest from customers. Popeyes' shares have gone up 2% year-to-date.

Bottom line
As pizza sales in the U.S. aren't growing much, the catalyst for Domino's business in the country will be its supply chain business. As for the company's business in the international markets, its pizza sales will continue to grow. Due to growing populations in India and Africa, these markets will become the biggest drivers of the company's revenue in the future.

Over the last three years, Domino's share price has risen by an astonishing 265%. This testifies to the fact that investors have always shown faith in the company. Thanks to its supply chain business in the U.S. and its international pizza business, Domino's will continue to grow and this makes it a good buy for the long run.

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