Chipotle Takes a Big Bite Out of Earnings

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Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) released first quarter financial results after markets closed Wednesday. The burrito chain said that it had $2.13 in earnings per share (EPS) on $1.15 billion in revenue, compared with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $1.57 in EPS on $1.15 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $1.60 in EPS on $1.07 billion in revenue.

During the quarter, comparable restaurant sales increased 2.2% (net of 50 basis points related to Chiptopia revenue deferral from 2017). Comparable restaurant sales increases were attributable to an increase in average check, including a 4.9% benefit from menu price increases that have been taken in almost all restaurants over the past twelve months

Food costs were 32.4% of revenue, a decrease of 140 basis points as compared to the first quarter of 2017. Restaurant level operating margin was 19.5% in the first quarter of 2018, a 180 basis point improvement from 17.7% last year.

Looking ahead to the 2018 full year, Chipotle expects to see comparable sales increases in the low-single digits, and expects to open 130 to 150 new restaurants. There are consensus estimates calling for $8.46 in EPS on $4.85 billion in revenue.

Brian Niccol, CEO, commented:

Chipotle is a purpose driven brand with loyal customers, passionate employees, industry-leading economic potential, along with incredible brand equity, and craveable food with integrity, all built over the last 25 years. While the company made notable progress during the quarter, I firmly believe we can accelerate that progress in the future.  We are in the process of forming a path to greater performance in sales, transactions, margins and new restaurants.  This path to performance will be grounded in a strategy of executing the fundamentals while introducing consumer-meaningful innovation across the business.  It will also require a structure and organization built for creativity, action and accountability.  Finally, Chipotle will have a culture that is centered on running great restaurants, putting the customer first, innovating for today and tomorrow, supporting each other, and delivering on commitments.  The future will be meaningful at Chipotle.

Shares of Chipotle closed Wednesday at $339.52, with a consensus analyst price target of $318.68 and a 52-week range of $247.52 to $499.00. Following the announcement the stock was up 10% at $374.02 in the after-hours session.

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