Chipotle Jumps as First-Quarter Sales Beat Estimates

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., the Denver-based fast-casual dining chain, rose the most in more than two years after first-quarter sales topped analysts’ estimates, helped by an acceleration of store openings.

Chipotle jumped 12 percent to $366.25 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since Oct. 22, 2010. The shares have increased 23 percent this year, compared with a 9 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Revenue increased 13 percent to $726.8 million in the quarter, the burrito seller said in a statement yesterday. Analysts estimated $724.7 million, the average of 24 projections compiled by Bloomberg.

Chipotle, which has more than 1,450 locations, has been trying to attract customers and boost sales with more traditional advertising, catering services and new food, including Sofritas -- tofu with spices and roasted peppers. The company, led by co-Chief Executive Officers Steve Ells and Montgomery Moran, has said that it may raise menu prices later this year.

In the three months ended March 31, the company opened 48 new restaurants, compared with 32 new openings a year earlier.

Net income in the quarter increased 22 percent to $76.6 million, or $2.45 a share, from a year earlier, Chipotle said. Analysts estimated $2.13 a share, on average.

The chain, which introduced its first ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen in 2011, will open three more of those stores in the coming months, Ells said during a conference call with analysts. At ShopHouse, customers move along a service line and customize their meals, similar to Chipotle restaurants.

Chipotle plans to open at the high end of between 165 and 180 new stores this year, Ells said.

The shares have gained 10 percent this year through yesterday, compared with an 8.1 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.