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Growing Pains for Chipotle

Though the hot Mexican restaurant chain missed the fourth-quarter profit forecast, analysts say it still has a better chance of attracting cost-conscious diners than other brands

The slump in the restaurant industry seems to be catching up with the hot Mexican chain Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG), whose shares got crushed on Feb. 15 after its fourth-quarter earnings per share fell one penny short of expectations.

By normal standards, the profits that the Denver-based restaurant chain reported after the market close on Feb. 14 were robust -- growth of nearly 61% in the last three months of 2007 and of 66.4% for the full year.