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Over the past 12-months any company with a leveraged balance sheet has just been shellacked. In the case of DPZ the stock is down over 40% over the past 12-months because the company's Debt/EBITDA is slightly over 7.0x. While the stock has paid the price for excessive leverage, the fundamentals of the business model do not jeopardize the company's ability to meet the interest payment and/or pay down debt over time. In fact, I believe that this trend will begin to reverse in the next 6-12 months.

DPZ is not the only restaurant company to leverage the balance sheet at exactly the wrong time; they just took leverage to a whole new level. I guess that is what you get from a board that is controlled by a PE firm that wants to extract as much cash from the company as possible. The good thing is that the business model can support it.
  • Current t Trends Look Positive Over the past three quarters, the international business has been posting same-store sale in the MSD while the U.S. has had a difficult time. While the US business is still challenged, the Pizza category is seeing a significant change in traffic trends in 2Q08. Since 2Q07 the pizza category had seen three straight quarter of sequential decline in traffic. So far in 2Q08 traffic trends are down 1.2% vs. 4% in 1Q08.
  • Domino's is as global as you get. With global retail sales of $5.5 billion, the Domino's system operates 8,600 stores in over 55 countries around the world. The Domino's business model has three different operating units; domestic (which is comprised of about 4,600 franchise owned and operated stores and only 500 company-owned stores), International (which has over 3,500 stores in over 55 countries) and a supply chain business which is critical to the DPZ story. The supply chain business is important to Domino's business model as it provides quality and consistency of product to the stores. The supply chain aggregates the purchasing power of the 5,000 U.S. stores, and allows for passing those efficiencies onto franchise operators. Importantly, franchisees sign up for a ten-year profit-sharing agreement where they pledge their business to this entity, and in return receive on a proportionate basis 50% of the profit generation of the distribution center. This distribution business has helped mitigate some of the commodity volatility in 1Q08.
  • Commodity IssuesDPZ is in the EYE of the storm from a commodity perspective. Cheese represents approximately 40% of the cost of the pizza and has been a very difficult commodity over the past couple years. Meat, wheat, tomatoes and corrugated boxes are the other key commodities for the company. Needles to say, virtually all of these commodity costs have been at a ten-year high, and in many cases, an all-time historical high over the last 12 to 18 months.
  • Financial IssuesFinancial Issues