Chipotle Earnings Hammered by Same-Store Sales Guidance

Mexican foodChipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) reported fourth-quarter and full-year results after the market closed Tuesday. The fast casual restaurant chain reported quarterly diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $3.84 on revenues of $1.07 billion. In the year-ago quarter Chipotle reported EPS of $2.53 on revenues of $844.15 million. The consensus estimates called for EPS of $3.79 on revenues of $1.07 billion.

For the full year, the company reported EPS of $14.13 on revenues of $4.11 billion, compared with EPS of $10.47 and revenues of $3.21 billion in the 2013 fourth quarter. Analysts were looking for EPS of $14.07 on revenues of $4.11 billion.

Same-store sales rose 16.1% in the quarter driven by more traffic and a price increase implemented last summer. Operating margins rose a point to 26.6% and food costs rose 1.1% to 35% of revenues. Higher prices for dairy and beef supplies drove the higher costs.

Same-store sales rose 16.8% for the full year and food costs amounted to 34.6% of revenues. Operating margin for the year came to 27.2%.

The company opened 60 new restaurants in the quarter and now claims 1,783 stores.

The company added $100 million to an existing total of about $98 million in its stock repurchase fund.

Chipotle expects to open 190 to 205 new stores in 2015 and further expects same-store sales to increase in the low- to mid-single digits. That is not such good news for investors coming on the heels of sales increases in the mid-teens. The company did not explain the drop but almost certainly will have to answer that question on the conference call.

CEO Steve Ells said:

We continue to make significant progress on our important journey to change the way people think about and eat fast food. Consumer trends are changing, which we believe is a great result of people becoming more discerning about where their food comes from, how it was raised, and how their meal was prepared.

The company’s shares traded down about 5.6% in Tuesday’s after-hours session, at $685.95 in a 52-week range of $472.41 to $727.97. The shares closed at $726.63. The consensus price target on the stock is around $745.50.

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