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LOUISVILLE, KY-Papa Johns plans to step up its growth, adding 240 new stores worldwide next year to its current network of about 2,900. However, the locally based company will also close between 70 and 100 restaurants during the period.

Half of the openings will be domestic, while the other new stores are going into other countries. Franchisees will run 80% of the units, while the company will own the rest of restaurants. Domestic franchised units account for most of the closings, and franchisees will run all of the international units.

The growth in 2006 is a step up from this year’s forecast, which calls for between 150 and 190 worldwide openings. The closings scheduled for 2005 are from 155 to 140 units.

Meanwhile, executives are predicting a year-over-year 2% to 3% same-store sales increase for the company’s domestic units next year. Same-store sales have jumped 6.7% for the first nine months of this year, according to the company’s Q3 report.

Papa John’s officials have reaffirmed earnings-per-share guidance for the year of between $1.22 and $1.24. Next year’s EPS is projected to range from $1.38 to $1.46. Executives today announced that they have increased their share repurchase program by $25 million, to $525 million. To date, the company has repurchased $494.2 million of its stock.

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