Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) easily has been one of 2019’s best-performing stocks, with shares nearly doubling in this time. As a result, analysts have been chasing the burrito chain higher, even with Goldman Sachs calling for a street-high $1,000 price target at the end of August.
Now another firm has issued a target that nearly rivals Goldman Sachs’ street-high target. Wedbush upgraded Chipotle to an Outperform from Neutral and raised its price target to $980 from $780, implying an upside of 17% from the most recent closing price of $836.32.
As the industry transitions toward a larger mix of digital transactions, Wedbush believes Chipotle is in a leading position to establish a digital moat. The firm not only continues to see near-term momentum as management executes toward this transition, Wedbush believes Chipotle is poised to sustain outsized same-store sales and EPS growth in the medium- to long-term in an industry where a dearth of growth is likely to command an increasing premium.
The boutique investment firm believes digital sales at Chipotle are on a path toward a 30% or more sales mix exiting 2021. On the third-party marketplace front, Wedbush expects Chipotle to adopt incremental partners given the varying regional market share dynamics.
Meanwhile, Wedbush believes the promotional collaboration between Chipotle and existing partnerships will continue to drive increased transactions. With respect to Chipotle’s own app, aside from a favorable promotional cadence, Wedbush expects loyalty to act as the primary lever behind both adoption and usage, positioning Chipotle at the top of restaurant apps likely to find space on customers’ handheld devices.
As a result, Wedbush is also increasing its 2020 earnings estimate to $18.32 per share from $17.96 and the 2021 estimate to $23.19 from $22.49.
Shares of Chipotle traded up about 2% to $855.41 on Monday, in a 52-week range of $383.20 to $856.24. The consensus price target is $774.00.