Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 30.

Domino's Pizza (DPZ) - Get Domino's Pizza, Inc. Report  loves to grab attention by coming up with new ways of getting its pizzas into customers' hands, some real and some, well, not so much.

The latest came this week when the chain released a video of employees training reindeer to deliver pizza in Japan during the country's winter season.

But Domino's has made headlines other times this fall, such as offering pizza delivery by canoe for people living on the River Loose, in England. Arguably the biggest attention-grabber came on Nov. 16, when a couple in Whangaparaoa, New Zealand, became the first people in the world to have their pizza drop out of the sky, strapped to the belly of a drone.

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That last one may be worth noting, because Domino's isn't the first company to experiment with drone delivery. Amazon, for example, first revealed its plans for a similar service, called Prime Air, in 2013.

In light of that, it isn't too difficult to envision a drone dropping a pizza on one's doorstep one day, even if that day is still a long way off.

"We believe drone delivery will be an essential component of our pizza deliveries, so even more customers can receive the freshest, hottest pizza we can offer," said Don Meij, chief executive of Domino's Pizza Enterprises, the company's master franchisee in New Zealand.

"[Drones] can avoid traffic congestion and traffic lights and safely reduce the delivery time and distance by traveling directly to customers' homes. This is the future," Meij said.

Despite the test, there are still plenty of things keeping a large-scale airborne pizza-delivery service firmly on the ground. In the U.S. for example, Federal Aviation Administration rules require drones to be kept within the operator's line of sight at all times.

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In reality, the company's drone-dabbling is more useful as a marketing tool than anything else, because it keeps Domino's on the radar of technology-savvy consumers. And judging by the company's sales, particularly its burgeoning digital revenue, it is already enjoying plenty of success on that front.

Domino's is an established digital-ordering leader, with customers able to get their pies through Facebook,Twitter, text message and even its new zero click application, through which customers can order their favorite pizza.

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In all, more than 50% of Domino's sales were via digital orders last year. Third-quarter same-store sales surged 13% from a year ago in the U.S. and 6.6% overseas.

Overall revenue rose 16.9%, to $566.7 million, easily beating the consensus forecast of $542.4 million, while earnings soared 43.3%, to 96 cents a share, also topping the 89 cents a share that analysts had expected.

The company does face strong competition from other pizza purveyors such as Papa John's and Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, not to mention fast-food giants such as McDonald's. However, its marketing savvy and digital channels give it a big edge over those chains, not least because they let Domino's collect valuable data on its customers' buying habits.

Domino's shares have soared more than 53% this year, and the stock's forward price-earnings ratio stands at 40, compared with 30.7 for its industry. Even so, this well-run digital leader is a good stock to put on investors' watch lists and buy on any major pullback.


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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.