(Reuters) - Domino's Pizza Inc (DPZ.N) delivered better-than-expected quarterly profit and said it is optimistic about sales of its new "artisan" pizzas, sending its shares up almost 8 percent.
The pizza delivery chain on Tuesday said third-quarter sales at Domino's restaurants open at least a year were up 3 percent in the United States and up 8.1 percent internationally. Analysts said the growth in same-restaurant sales -- a gauge of restaurant performance -- topped their targets.
Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Domino's last year changed its U.S. pizza recipe to make it more flavorful, a move that bolstered sales.
Now, Domino's executives hope the company's new line of $7.99 "artisan" pizzas will further increase sales in the fourth quarter.
"We are certainly optimistic," Chief Executive J. Patrick Doyle said of the new, more upscale pizzas on a conference call with analysts.
Oppenheimer analyst Brian Bittner said in a client note that fourth-quarter results could be boosted by "an acceleration in online orders, the new artisan pizzas," and orders from fans watching pro football on TV.
Domino's had third-quarter net income of $22.1 million, or 36 cents per share, up from $16.6 million, or 27 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, profit was 35 cents per share, topping analysts' average estimate by 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Same-restaurant sales at Pizza Hut U.S. were down 3 percent in the latest quarter. In China, where Pizza Hut is more upscale than in the United States, same-store sales grew 19 percent.
Domino's shares were up 7.7 percent in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reporting by Lisa Baertlein; editing by John Wallace