Though Peppy Paneer may not be a popular pizza topping in the U.S., Indians are eating up the tofu-esque offering from Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) that caters to regional tastes on the subcontinent. And increasingly at DPZ, it’s what the international pizza crowd wants that matters.
Take India, the fastest-growing market for Domino’s Pizza. Just last week, DPZ opened Domino’s 300th outlet in India and its 65th new location there this year. It’s international expansion like this that is fueling Domino’s growth. About 55% of Domino’s $5.6 billion in sales last year were in the United States, and that international same-store sales have increased for 64 consecutive quarters (that’s 16 straight years).
The trend is a little hard to wrap your head around — an American version of Italian food selling great in India. But this much is clear: If this keeps up, Domino’s will see the bulk of its revenue come in from outside the U.S. very soon, and provide a springboard for growth in the months and years to come.
That seems to be a wise move. Look under “pizza” in your local phone book and tally up the dozens or even hundreds of restaurants in your area. In a mature market like that, it’s difficult to see growth even if you are one of the dominant brands. There are simply too many options and not enough potential to move the needle quarter to quarter.
This is a lesson most blue chip stocks have learned lately: If you want to see growth, you have to look overseas.
It’s also worth noting that the global strength of consumer spending and relatively weak sales in the U.S. have allowed DPZ to weather the economic downturn fairly well. Shares have doubled since November, while the market is up a measly 10%.
Things have been going so well that Domino’s has even spun off its Jubilant FoodWorks franchisee in India, which went public in January and saw its shares jump 58% on the first day.
This global strength doesn’t mean that DPZ is bowing out of the U.S. Domino’s changed its U.S. pizza recipes in the last year with a truly daring marketing campaign that compared its crust to cardboard and the company’s pizza sauce to ketchup. Improvements include a sauce with more kick, a different cheese blend and a garlic-coated crust.
But the bottom line is still the bottom line. If Domino’s can simply treat water in the U.S. while it continues to see booming growth overseas, it will do just fine in 2010. The fact of the matter is that international sales in emerging markets like India have been fueling stocks in every sector.
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