Chipotle Meets Reality on Earnings and Growth Expectation

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Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) reported its third-quarter results Monday after the market closed as $4.15 in earnings per share and $1.08 billion in revenue. That was against Thomson Reuters consensus estimates of $3.84 in earnings per share and $1.06 billion in revenue. In the third quarter of the previous year, it recorded earnings of $2.66 per share and $826.91 million in revenue.

The company gave guidance for the 2014 full year of mid-teens in comparable restaurant sales increases, effective full year tax rate of 38.5% and a range of 180 to 195 for new restaurant openings. Thomson Reuters has consensus earnings estimates of $13.74 in earnings per share and $1.06 billion in revenue for the full year.

Chipotle further gave guidance for the 2015 fiscal year of 190 to 205 restaurant openings, low to mid-single digit comparable restaurant sales increases and an estimated effective tax rate of 39.1%.

In the third quarter, net income increased 56.9% year-over-year to $130.8 million and comparable restaurant sales increased 19.8%. For the first three-quarters of 2014, net income was up 30.8% to $324.1 million and comparable restaurant sales increased 17.0%.

Chipotle opened 43 new restaurants this past quarter, which makes a total of 132 new restaurants on the year thus far, and a grand total of 1,724 restaurants as of the end of September.

Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, said:

The way we source, prepare and serve our food; the way we hire, develop and empower our people; and the way we operate our business is very different than the traditional fast food model. Recent industry trends suggest the Chipotle model is resonating with customers, who are realizing there are better alternatives to traditional fast food. We believe these trends will continue, and that’s good for our customers and our shareholders.

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In anticipation of earnings, shares were up 1.76% to $653.03 from the previous close of $641.72. The initial reaction was down about 2.3% at $638 in the after-hours session on Monday. The last time earnings were released, shares skyrocketed about 10% to $649.90 from $589.93, and shares have remained relatively near this level since. Shares of Chipotle have a consensus analyst price target of $718.36 and a 52-week trading range of $472.41 to $697.93. The company has a market cap of $20 billion.