In this segment from the Market Foolery podcast, host Chris Hill and Motley Fool Asset Management's Bill Barker first weigh in on the departure of Papa John's (NASDAQ:PZZA) CFO (chief financial officer) and CAO (chief administrative officer) Lance Tucker, who has been at the company for almost 25 years. The pizza chain has now lost its two most important execs in rapid succession, which presents the obvious question: What's next?
Then they consider Nestle's (OTC:NSRGY) decision to sell its U.S. candy business to Ferrero. It may be the most well-known aspect of the company here, but in the grand scheme, you'll be surprised to hear how small a piece of revenue it accounts for compared to pet food, bottled water, and infant formula.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 17, 2018.
Chris Hill: If you're listening and you're good with numbers, good news. Papa John's is looking for a CFO. Lance Tucker, who is the chief financial officer and chief administrative officer at Papa John's, is leaving at the end of February to become CFO at Jack in The Box. He's been at that company for almost 25 years. Between this and John Schnatter deciding -- or, maybe the board deciding that Schnatter no longer needs to be the CEO -- that's basically your two most important executives gone. Maybe not a surprise that shares of Papa John's are falling today.
Bill Barker: Right. There's less and less visibility as to who's going to be calling the shots and how much confidence to have in them. You're left with a company that got to where it was on, I guess, the strength of its operations and its leadership, and I think some resonance that the commercials achieved through the CEO himself.
Hill: Yeah, the personality. That came across in the ads.
Barker: What next, is the question. At the moment, it's a pizza chain, it's not renowned for its delicious pizza above everybody else's. It's a highly competitive market. They have better operations in terms of having achieved a platform for online delivery and mobile orders and things like that, that's going to be very valuable going forward and is very valuable today. But, who's calling the shots, and what shots are going to be called, and a far more comprehensive description of why is this all going on than has been provided so far. In the absence of any of that, the market is entitled to and will continue to not be interested in buying the stock.
Hill: Patrick Doyle is leaving Domino's. Do you think maybe he wants to go to the other team and see if he can run that shop?
Barker: I wouldn't have any idea. But everyone has their price. And I suppose he's able to command a pretty good price, if that's where they wanted to go. As you say, he's available, but I have no reason to believe that this is of interest to him.
Hill: Nestle is selling its U.S. candy business to Ferrero, which is an Italian-based candy company. Nestle is going to get a nice big check for $2.8 billion, which is a big check for the business of Butterfinger and Baby Ruth and my personal favorite, Raisinets, and more. There are others in that portfolio, too. Here's what surprises me about this. I think, if you asked 100 people about the business of Nestle, just the proverbial person on the street interview, if you ask 100 people, what business is Nestle in, I'm guessing a majority will refer to the candy. And in fact, the U.S. candy business represents just a tiny portion of the overall business of Nestle.
Barker: Yeah, it's about 1%, a little bit more than 1% of the global business. Nestle the company is much more about pet food and bottled water and infant formulas. I think they're looking at all of that as a more interesting future than candy, which is a stable business but not really a growing business. And they got close to $3 billion for, what they are selling is about $900 million a year in sales between, not just the Nestle Crunch bar, but Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Raisinets, Laffy Taffy, those are the brands under the Nestle umbrella. Also, KitKat is a global Nestle brand, but Hershey has the rights to sell KitKat here. So, you get those little bizarre combinations. They're just going to focus on the bigger fish, the growing parts of their market.
Hill: It might be the most profitable of those brands you mentioned. But, if it's not, I think the first thing Ferrero should do is shut down the Laffy Taffy division. Just save some money. Come on. That's not real candy. Come on. [laughs] Ferrero has Nutella, they have Tic Tacs, and now they have some serious U.S. candies coming into their portfolio. Focus on what's important, Ferrero! That's my advice. Ditch the Laffy Taffy.
Barker: Get rid of the Laffy Taffy? It bothers you for some reason.
Hill: I mean, it's not good.
Barker: You got it stuck in your teeth a couple of times and you're still bitter.
Hill: I'm not bitter. I'm just saying, you come home at the end of the night on Halloween --
Barker: You just feel like a fool. You have this stuff stuck in your teeth, you're trying to pry it out, the kids are laughing at you, it's humiliating. I know what you're saying.
Hill: [laughs] You look at your bag of candy, you're going through it, you're telling me the first thing you're not ditching is Laffy Taffy? Of course it is!
Barker: There's no way. The first thing you're ditching are the Mary Janes.
Hill: I mean, those are the same thing. They're basically cousins.