Analysts: Papa John’s outlook brighter amid civil unrest; Humana stock edges up after DOJ shocker; and Louisville’s big on $1,500 apartments

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 10:39 a.m.

Papa John's vs. S&P July 20
Papa John’s stock, in blue, has zoomed ahead of the S&P 500 index over the past three months, when civil unrest has been in the news.

PAPA JOHN’S stock jumped 3.7% to $71.69 a share in the first hour of trading, after Wall Street analysts upgraded the Louisville pizza chain on the surprising view that diners, concerned about political and civil unrest, are choosing to stay home for pizza delivery rather than go out for a meal. “After speaking with several large operators and industry contacts,” KeyBanc Capital Markets analysts said yesterday, “we believe the recent decline in casual dining restaurant segment fundamentals — traffic down 3% to 5% the past several weeks — may be the result of consumers eating more at home amid the current political/social backdrop, which we believe could last through the November election.” The company’s stock has jumped 22% in the last three months vs. a much smaller 3% gain in the broader S&P 500 index (MarketWatch and Google Finance). Louisville-based Papa John’s employs 750 workers at its headquarters, and another 21,000 across the globe. More about the company.

HUMANA‘s stock rose 74 cents to $154.12 a share a day after word surfaced the Justice Department was poised to block the Louisville insurer’s $37 billion acquisition by Aetna of Hartford. Aetna climbed 74 cents to $115.84. Yesterday, Humana tumbled 4%, and Aetna fell 2.7% (Google Finance). Humana employs 12,500 workers in its Louisville corporate hometown.

KFC: In New Zealand, franchisee Restaurant Brands hasn’t ruled out home delivery of KFC now that McDonald’s has started offering the service. But CEO Russel Creedy said KFC had tried home delivery before and found customers preferred drive-throughs rather than waiting for their chicken to be brought to their front door. Creedy’s franchise already has experience with delivery through its Pizza Hut restaurants (New Zealand Herald).

FORD‘s Flat Rock Assembly Plant south of Detroit — where the popular Mustang and Fusion are built –- caught fire around 7 last night and forced a partial evacuation of the sprawling 400-acre complex that employs 3,200 workers. No injuries were reported (Detroit Free Press). In Louisville, Ford employs nearly 10,000 workers at two vehicle and truck assembly factories.

Amazon logoAMAZON is signing up amateur drivers in the U.K. to deliver packages in their spare time from distribution centers to customers’ homes, expanding a system it started last year in its corporate hometown of Seattle. Starting this month in Birmingham, a smartphone app will allow the company’s part-time mules to choose when and where they want to work, as well as guiding them to customers’ homes and allowing customers to track their orders (Financial Times).

PIZZA HUT: With the Aug. 5 start of the Summer Olympics closing in, Pizza Hut has launched its patriot-themed Big Flavor Dipper in a red-white-and-blue box emblazoned with “Go USA!”

In other news, Louisville ranked No. 6 among 30 U.S. cities offering the biggest apartments renting for $1,500 a month, according to a new Rent Cafe report. The top 10:

  1. Memphis: 1,948 square feet
  2. Oklahoma City: 1,786
  3. Indianapolis: 1,724
  4. El Paso: 1,667
  5. Columbus, Ohio: 1,667
  6. Louisville: 1,648
  7. Jacksonville, Fla.: 1,579
  8. Las Vegas: 1,546
  9. Phoenix: 1,415
  10. Fort Worth: 1,389

In contrast, New York City had the smallest apartments, at 271 square feet (MarketWatch and Rent Cafe).

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