Shares of the pizza chain
closed up almost 8% on Thursday, after the company tapped a new marketing chief.
Earlier in the day, Papa John's said it was hiring "30-year marketing and advertising veteran" Gary Langstaff as its head marketing officer. Langstaff helped reposition
, the company said, reversing a five-year negative sales trend at the burger giant.
Papa John's, it seems, could use Langstaff's help. In November, the restaurant operator said same-store sales were up only 0.9%, less than other companies in the dining segment. By contrast,
said sales grew 9.4%, while
said they rose 4.8%.
Moreover, several analysts have raised concerns recently about the future of pizza delivery. "We continue to be nonplussed by the pizza delivery category. In our opinion, the demographic changes created by an aging baby boomer generation, and the more sophisticated food requirements of today's consumers create a stagnant industry format," said Michael Smith, an analyst at Oppenheimer, in a recent research note. He has a sell recommendation on Papa John's.
Smith said short-covering was likely behind Thursday's rally. As of Nov. 10, short interest represented more than 36% of Papa John's float. The stock finished ahead $2.26 at $31.46.