Why Analysts Are Warming Up to Chipotle After Earnings

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Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) released its first-quarter earnings report after the markets closed on Tuesday. Although Chipotle shares closed out lower on the week, the stock still saw a solid uptick from its earnings report, if only briefly. This was enough to pique the interest of a few analysts and even push price targets higher for this burrito business. This might be the beginning of the turnaround for Chipotle, even if analysts are not entirely on board.

24/7 Wall St. has included some brief highlights from the report, as well as what a few analysts are saying about this burrito chain after these results were announced.

Chipotle posted $1.60 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.07 billion in revenue, which compared to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $1.27 in EPS and revenue in $1.05 billion. The same period of last year reportedly 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.

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. The consensus estimates are $8.15 in EPS and $4.58 billion in revenue for the coming year.

Analysts had this to say after earnings:

  • Nomura reiterated a Hold rating with a $510 price target.
  • Stephens has an Underweight rating but raised its price target to $350 from $325.
  • JPMorgan has a Neutral rating and raised its price target to $420 from $365.
  • Jefferies has an Underperform rating but raised its price target from $300 to $350.
  • Deutsche Bank has a Sell rating and raised its price target to $300 from $280.
  • Cowen has a Market Perform rating and raised its price target to $440 from $375.
  • SunTrust Banks has a Buy rating and raised its price target from $500 to $550.
  • Piper Jaffray has an Overweight rating and raised its price target to $530 from $483.
  • Instinet has a Neutral rating and raised its price target to $510 from $333.
  • Barclays has an Equal Weight rating and raised its price target to $415 from $395.
  • Oppenheimer reiterated a Market Perform rating.
  • Maxim has a Hold rating and raised its price target from $430 to $440.
  • Telsey Advisory Group has a Market Perform rating and raised its price target to $440 from $400.

Shares of Chipotle ended the week at $474.47, with a consensus analyst price target of $445.38 and a 52-week trading range of $352.96 to $497.48.