Papa’s Got A Brand New Boss

Papa John's orders in a new CEO

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What's going on?

The highly competitive pizza party heated up on Tuesday as the worlds’ third-largest delivery group, Papa John’s, ordered in a new CEO.

What does this mean?

Like a 12” special in a suspiciously squashed box, Papa John’s has had a rough ride in recent years. Controversial comments from its outspoken founder caused investors and customers to up breadsticks, and the pizza patriarch to depart first the CEO role and then the company’s management board altogether.

His initial replacement has lasted just 20 months. Papa John’s latest quarterly results, which showed a return to profit, were quickly followed by another change at the topping, with the former boss of American sandwich chain Arby’s now becoming Papa’s Alpha.

Why should I care?

For markets: Another victory for the activists.
Activist investors amass stakes in companies and then use their financial firepower to force through change. One of the most “active” of all in recent months has been Starboard Value, which owns around 15% of Papa John’s and helped see off a challenge from its founder to regain control of the pizza chain earlier this year. But while it’ll be pleased with Papa John’s 7% stock price rise on Tuesday, Starboard hasn’t had as much success in opposing the $74 billion tie-up between pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Myers Squibb and Celgene. The latter’s sale of its Otezla psoriasis division, announced on Monday, helps pave the way for regulators to approve its mega-merger with Bristol.

The bigger picture: Beyond Meat, or beyond caring?
The new pizza CEO led an impressive turnaround at Arby’s, but deliberately avoided cultivating a plant-based meat menu. That’s in contrast to many fast food rivals – and KFC on Monday became the latest clucker to jump on the bandwagon, with an announcement that it would begin trialing plant nuggets and wings from Beyond Meat. The vegan-friendly stock market darling already had a feather in its cap after investment bank JPMorgan recommended investors buy its shares last week…

Originally posted as part of the Finimize daily email.

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