Chipotle Profit Rises 35% as U.S. Same-Store Sales Gain

Chipotle Earning
A Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurant in San Mateo, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., the best-performing restaurant stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index last year, said first-quarter profit rose 35 percent as U.S. consumers dined out more.

Net income rose to $62.7 million, or $1.97 a share, from $46.4 million, or $1.46, a year earlier, the Denver-based company said in a statement today. Analysts projected $1.93, the average of 25 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The burrito seller has sought to draw customers by touting locally sourced meat and vegetables as Americans become more concerned with food provenance. Fast-food competitors McDonald’s Corp. and Wendy’s Co. have recently tried to win consumers by also emphasizing fresh ingredients and disclosing their foods’ origin.

“Chipotle continues to deliver pretty much across the board,” Andy Cross, chief investment officer at the Motley Fool in Alexandria, Virginia, said in an interview. The company is taking “more and more market share from competitors given their quality of food,” he said.

Chipotle rose 1.1 percent to $435.60 at 4:26 p.m. in New York. The shares closed today at $430.78 and gained 59 percent in 2011.

Sales at stores open at least 13 months gained 12.7 percent due to “increased traffic in the quarter as well as the impact of menu price increases,” the company said in the statement. Analysts were expecting a 10.9 percent same-store sales increase, the average of 24 estimates compiled by Consensus Metrix.

Higher Prices

Chipotle has raised menu prices because of higher costs for items such as beef, dairy and avocados during the past year. The company, led by founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer Steve Ells, expects food inflation to be in the “mid-single digits” this year, according to the statement.

Revenue rose 26 percent to $640.6 million in the quarter. Analysts estimated $631.4 million, on average.

Chipotle has more than 1,200 U.S. locations and restaurants in Canada and the U.K. The company plans to open as many as 165 new stores this year.

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