Investors appear hungry for some Papa John's (PZZA) now that its controversial founder John Schnatter is no longer occupying the corner office. 

Shares of the pizza joint spiked as much as 8.3% to $63.98 on Thursday, the highest intra-day price dating back to Nov. 2. The move higher has been rather convincing, coming on 1.7 times the average three-month daily volume, according to Bloomberg data. On Wednesday, Papa John's stock dropped about 2.3% on news its CFO would leave in March to join Jack in the Box (JACK) . 

Papa John's Founder John Schnatter with his legendary Camaro.
Papa John's Founder John Schnatter with his legendary Camaro.

On Dec. 21, Schnatter decided to step down as CEO following lightening rod comments made in Novemver. Schnatter said on a third quarter earnings call that national anthem protests in the NFL were mostly to blame for sluggish sales at the fast-food giant. Papa John's is a key sponsor of the NFL, often running TV ads of Schnatter and football great (and Papa John's franchisee) Peyton Manning. Steve Ritchie, a veteran executive at Papa John's, took over as CEO on Jan. 1. 

The announcement capped off a tough year for Papa John's shareholders -- the stock fell 34% in 2017 amid cooling sales growth. But since Schnatter's departure, shares of Papa John's have climbed about 7%. That has outperformed both the Dow and S&P 500. 

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