The rally helped push shares to a 15% gain so far in 2016, compared to 3% for the broader market and 12% for rival Domino's Pizza (NYSE:DPZ).
So what: Investors cheered Papa John's first-quarter report that showed a 14% rise in net income that translated into 26% higher earnings per share after accounting for a shrinking share count. The pizza chain benefited from lower costs on ingredients like meat and dough in addition to a 2% improvement in comparable-store sales. "We're pleased to have delivered another solid quarter, with excellent profitability growth in spite of a competitive promotional environment," founder and CEO John Schnatter said in a press release.
That profit result trounced Domino's, which posted a slight profit decrease in Q1. However, Domino's continued to beat Papa John's in the critical comps metric: Its comps were up a scorching 12%, on top of the prior-year period's 16% spike.
Still, Papa John's is benefiting from many of the trends that have helped strengthen Domino's business over the last few years and helps these chains stand out as winners in a tough casual-dining landscape. More than half of Papa John's sales are now generated through digital sources, for example, which is right in line with Domino's ratio.
Now what: Looking ahead, Papa John's is on track to generate as much as $2.40 per share this year, for a 15% boost over last year's result. By comparison, consensus estimates call for Domino's to boost earnings by 6%.
Meanwhile, Papa John's comps are targeted to improve by 3% in the key U.S. market even as the company pours resources into expanding internationally. Executives aim to add 200 new locations to the store base in 2016, 75% of which will be in international markets.
Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Papa John's International. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.