Chipotle Sales Top Estimates After Digital, Traffic Gains

(Bloomberg) -- Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s comparable sales topped estimates last quarter as diners flocked to its more convenient options including expanded digital ordering. The shares gained slightly in late trading.

  • Same-store sales rose 13.4% in the fourth quarter, marking the 10th straight gain for the burrito seller. Analysts projected 9.8%, according to Consensus Metrix.
  • While both comparable sales and profit topped estimates, the company’s 2020 forecast for same-store sales shows a slower growth rate than in 2019. Chipotle expects that key measure of performance to increase by mid-single digits, compared with 11.1% in 2019.

Key Insights

  • Chipotle’s efforts to entice customers with more convenient options helped revenues, with a big portion thanks to digital sales which surpassed $1 billion for the year. For the quarter, digital sales jumped 78% from the year prior, accounting for almost 20% of sales in the quarter.
  • The burrito chain has said about half of its new stores will have car lanes this year under Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol. Expansion is helping Chipotle and it’s planning as many as 165 new stores this year, compared with 140 in 2019.
  • The chain faced higher costs for steak, though avocado costs remained favorable. The company also saw increased costs related to delivery and labor. However, margin was still higher than the year prior at 19.2% in the quarter.
  • Chipotle has introduced high-protein and Keto salad bowls to its menu, and is testing more new menu items to keep customers coming in the door. The chain posted 8% traffic growth for the quarter.

Market Reaction

  • Chipotle stock rose 0.6% in New York. Through the close, the shares have gained about 5.7% so far this year. For the company’s statement, click here.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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