Investors in the top three publicly traded U.S. pizza brands sent price-per-share values right up the chimney for Domino's, Papa John's and Pizza Hut parent, Yum Brands last week. In fact, of the brands monitored here weekly, only the smaller Dallas-based, Rave Restaurant Group, tumbled back down in value.
At Ann Arbor, Michigan-based pizza powerhouse, Domino's Pizza, Inc., investors managed to send the stock soaring up $13.34 in value over the week's buying and selling, leaving it to end the week at $396.71.
Pizza Hut parent, Yum Brands, Inc. pushed upward also, gaining $3.79 in value over the week to close Friday at $109.78. At its Louisville, Kentucky-based competitor, Papa John's International, Inc., the news was even better. Papa John's value rose $5.64 over the week's trading activity to settle in Friday at $90.47.
But Pie Five and Pizza Inn parent, Rave Restaurant Group, Inc., had little to cheer the week before the Christmas holiday when its overall share value dropped from $1.01 the previous week, to 86 cents last Friday at the close.
Cheese producers last week had some gains of their own to report, perhaps much to the chagrin of pizza restaurant brands on the buy side. The average price for barrels gained nearly 3 cents to come in at $1.45, while 40-pound blocks gained a penny to land on an average last week of $1.64, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The closing price for barrels closed was $1.48, while 40-pound blocks ended at $1.62.
The U.S.D.A. said that cheese market tones have remained relatively stable, along with demand for the commodity. That's brought some retail cheese buyers back into the action, though the demand from foodservice has remained problematic, according to the department.
Cheese inventories are a growing concern for Western contacts. Midwestern U.S.D.A. cheese sector contacts report positive notes regarding staffing shortages due to COVID-19, but potential absences remain at the forefront of their schedule planning.
Prices paid last week in the wheat futures markets were mostly mixed, with March Minnesota Grain Exchange spring wheat futures gaining 3 cents to end up at $5.70 last week. Meanwhile, Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat futures fell 6 cents to $6.08 a bushel, while Kansas City Board of Trade hard red winter wheat futures fell 12 cents to $5.69 per bushel. Lastly, Minneapolis Grain Exchange hard red spring wheat futures fell a penny to $5.68 per bushel.
Auto fuel prices were the dimmest bulb on last week's commodities' Christmas tree, at least from the view of the multitude of pizza brands now relying on delivery for the merriness of their holidays. That's because the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline grew 4 cents on average last week to $2.20.
According to the American Automobile Association, that meant the price of gas is now about a nickel more than it was just a week earlier per gallon, and a hefty 8 cents more than last month at this time, though still 35 cents less than last year's mid-December price average.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said gas demand also increased by 375,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 7.98 million b/d last week, while supplies tightened amid lower refinery utilization. As a result, after gas price drops the last four weeks, the increase in gas demand now has helped to push pump prices up across the country. But AAA said this price increase is probably just a temporary thing as the U.S. enters the winter driving season, when gas demand typically hits the lowest levels for the year.
The states that have been hit hardest by gas price increases were led by Indiana, where pump prices gained a whopping 20 cents a gallon. That was followed by Michigan and Ohio, which each saw prices jump 13 cents on the week, AAA said.
The current average nationally for a gallon of regular is $2.22, making the average price gain over the last week about 6 cents per gallon, AAA said. Mid-grade at $2.56 on average per gallon followed the same path, while at $2.83 premium gained just about 4 cents on the week.
Diesel and E85 each gained 5 cents on the week to a current average price of $2.52 and $2, respectively today.
Natural gas spot prices also rose at most locations for the last seven days reported ending on Dec. 16. The Henry Hub spot price rose from $2.45 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) to $2.67/MMBtu yesterday.
At the New York Mercantile Exchange, the price of the January 2021 contract increased 24 cents, from $2.44/MMBtu to $2.68/MMBtu yesterday. The price of the 12-month strip, averaging January 2021 through December 2021, futures contracts climbed 20 cents/MMBtu to $2.78/MMBtu, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The natural gas plant liquids composite price at Mont Belvieu, Texas, rose by 21 cents/MMBtu, averaging $5.60/MMBtu for the same period. The prices of propane, isobutane, ethane, butane and natural gasoline rose by 1%, 1%, 4%, 8% and 9%, respectively.
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