Chipotle Investors Do Not Find Weak Comparable Sales Appetizing

Chipotle logoChipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) reported its second quarter financial results Tuesday after the markets closed. The company had $4.45 in earnings per share on $1.2 billion in revenue versus consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters of $4.44 in EPS on $1.22 billion in revenue. The same quarter from the previous year had $3.50 in EPS on $1.22 billion in revenue.

The burrito giant maintained its outlook for the 2015 full year as 190 to 205 new restaurant openings and low-to-mid single-digit comparable restaurant sales increases.

In the second quarter, comparable restaurant sales growth (4.3%) was driven by an increase in the average check, which was the result of a nationwide menu price increase. This was fully rolled out during the second quarter of last year, increased traffic played a role in growth but to a lesser extent. Comparatively, in the first quarter of 2015 comparable sales grew 10.4%, and in the second quarter of 2014 comparable sales grew 17.3%.

Food costs were equal to 33.1% of revenue, a decrease of 150 basis points, as a result of the impact of the menu price increase, as well as relief in dairy and avocado prices, partially offset by increased beef and packaging costs as compared to the second quarter of 2014.

During the first quarter the burrito restaurant chain opened 48 new locations, bringing the total count of Chipotle restaurants to 1,878.

Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, commented on earnings:

We feel good about our second quarter results, as our revenue, average restaurant sales, and comparable restaurant sales have continued to grow even comparing to a very strong 2014. The strength of our business is the product of our unique food culture and unique people culture, and we constantly find ways to improve, and overcome challenges we encounter – whether that means non-GMO ingredients, adding new pork suppliers to ensure food with integrity, or reinventing the way tortillas are made at scale. Our relentless focus on the key drivers of our business allows us to continue to change the way people think about and eat fast food.

At the end of the second quarter, cash and cash equivalents totaled $587.7 million compared to the end of December 2014 which had $419.5 million.

Shares of Chipotle closed Tuesday down 0.7% at $673.07 on a 52-week trading range of $582.69 to $727.97. After the earnings were reported, shares were down 7.1% at $625.00 in the after-hours trading session. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $731.60.

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