Sale of Papa John's falls through causing stocks to drop

Posted at 4:19 PM, Nov 27, 2018

Papa John's tanked Tuesday after a report that a plan to sell the company has fallen apart.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the asset manager Trian Management Funds is no longer interested in bidding for the company. According to the Journal, others are still considering taking a stake in the company, but not a total purchase.

Papa John's (PZZA) stock was down 10% at market close Tuesday.

Papa John's declined to comment for this story. Trian did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.

Rumors have been swirling for weeks about potential buyers for the company. Each report has caused shares of the company to spike. The Journal reported Trian's interest last month.

Without a buyer, the struggling pizza company will have to find a way to convince investors that it can solve its problems on its own, and beat out competitors Domino's and Pizza Hut. That's a tall order.

The company has been working hard to distance itself from controversial founder John Schnatter, who resigned his role as chairman in July after news broke that he had used the N-word on a conference call.

Papa John's said earlier this month that same-store sales in North America fell by 9.8% during the most recent quarter. Total revenue dropped 15.7% from a year earlier to about $364 million.

Schnatter also stepped down as CEO at the end of last year after he caused a controversy by blaming the NFL for poor pizza sales. Schnatter said sales were hurt by the way the league handled players' kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice.

Since then, Papa John's hasn't been able to regain its momentum, and sales have continued to slip.

Other pizza sellers have struggled this quarter. Pizza Hut's sales were flat, and though Domino's (DPZ) reported domestic and international same-store growth, the company missed analyst expectations.

But Pizza Hut and Domino's are better equipped to win the pizza wars. Domino's has invested heavily in tech, and Pizza Hut is bolstering its partnerships. Pizza Hut replaced Papa John's as the NFL's official sponsor earlier this year.