Chipotle Takes a Big Bite Out of Earnings

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Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) released its first quarter earnings report after the markets closed on Tuesday. The burrito giant said that it had $1.60 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.07 billion in revenue, with consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters calling for $1.27 in EPS and $1.05 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had a net loss of $0.88 per share and $834.46 million in revenue.

Reduced promotional activity and improved traffic help to push comparable restaurant sales even higher this quarter. The average check also increased during the quarter. Comparable restaurant sales increased 17.8%, which included a benefit of 0.6% due to previously deferred revenue related to Chiptopia recognized during the quarter.

The chain opened 57 new restaurants during the quarter and closed 15 ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen restaurants and one Chipotle restaurant. The total restaurant count as of the end of the quarter was 2,291.

Restaurant-level operating margin was 17.7% in the quarter, an increase of 6.8% in the first quarter of 2016. The increase was primarily driven by sales leverage, lower marketing and promotional spend.

In terms of the outlook for the full year, the company expects to see comparable restaurant sales in the high-single digits, with 195 to 210 new restaurant openings. There are consensus estimates calling for $8.15 in EPS and $4.58 billion in revenue for the coming year.

Steve Ells, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Chipotle, commented:

2017 is off to a strong start, as our restaurant managers and teams are energized by our renewed focus on the customer. By simplifying the focus in our restaurants to only those elements that lead to a great guest experience, our operations have improved every single month, which gives us confidence that we are on our way to achieve our mission to ensure that great food made with whole unprocessed ingredients is accessible to everyone.

Shares of Chipotle closed Tuesday up 0.6% at $471.76, with a consensus analyst price target of $407.96 and a 52-week trading range of $352.96 to $483.50. Following the release of the earnings report the stock was up 5.4% at $497.45 in the after-hours trading session.