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 - Get Report) .
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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