Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG - Free Report) reported better-than-expected results in the first quarter of 2019. Adjusted earnings of $3.40 per share surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.01 by 13%. The bottom line also grew 59.6% from the year-ago quarter, backed by increased revenues and lower food costs.
Shares of Chipotle increased 0.6% in after-hour trading on Apr 24. In a year’s time, the stock has gained 109.1%, outperforming 23.8% rally of the industry.
Chipotle’s increased focus on augmenting customer experience by introducing food-safety programs, various sales-building initiatives and greater digital innovation resulted in revenue growth in the first quarter. Further, lower expenses aided margins in the quarter under review.
Revenues and Comparable Restaurant Sales
Quarterly revenues of $1.30 billion surpassed the consensus estimate of $1.26 billion by 3.1% and grew 13.9% year over year. The upside is primarily attributable to improvement in comps and restaurant openings. In the quarter under review, Chipotle opened 15 restaurants and closed two, bringing the total restaurant count to 2,504.
Comps in the first quarter rose 9.9%, driven by 2% rise in comparable restaurant transactions, offset by a 30 basis point (bps) of negative impact of deferred revenues from the Chipotle Rewards loyalty program.
Costs, Operating Highlights & Net Income
Food, beverage and packaging costs, as a percentage of revenues, decreased 20 basis points (bps) to 32.2%, owing to the benefit of menu price increases, partially offset by an increase in demand for the higher-priced steak and rise in paper costs.
General and administrative expenses were 7.8% of total revenues, reflecting an increase of 110 bps year over year primarily due to $13.1-million increase in performance bonus expenses, including non-cash stock-based compensation, bonus expenses and associated taxes. General and administrative expenses also increased due to a $3.4-million hike in outside service expenses related to the company’s sales-building initiatives. A $4.3-million increase related to corporate restructuring also added to higher overall expenses.
Restaurant-level operating margin was 21%, up 150 bps from 19.5% in the year-ago quarter. This upside was primarily driven by comps growth, and lower repairment and maintenance costs, partially offset by wage inflation, increased marketing and promotional costs, and delivery expenses.
Net income in the reported quarter summed $88.1 million, up from $59.4 million in the prior-year quarter.
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise
Cash and cash equivalents as of Mar 31, 2019, were $277.7 million compared with $250 million as of Dec 31, 2018.
Inventory totaled $18.8 million as of Mar 31, 2019, down from $21.6 million as of Dec 31, 2018. Goodwill, as a percentage of total assets, was 0.9% at the end of the first quarter compared with 1% at the end of 2018.
For 2019, management expects comps to grow in the mid to high-single-digit range compared with the previously mentioned mid-single-digit range. The company estimates effective tax rate between 27% and 30%. It still expects to launch 140-155 restaurants in 2019.
Zacks Rank & Peer Release
Chipotle currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Darden (DRI - Free Report) reported third-quarter fiscal 2019 results, wherein earnings and revenues surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Adjusted earnings of $1.80 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.75. Moreover, the bottom line increased 5.3% year over year on the back of higher revenues.
Upcoming Peer Releases
Starbucks (SBUX - Free Report) is scheduled to report second-quarter fiscal 2019 earnings on Apr 25. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s earnings in the quarter is pegged at 56 cents, indicating a 5.7% increase from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure.
McDonald’s (MCD - Free Report) is scheduled to report first-quarter 2019 earnings on Apr 30. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s earnings in the quarter is pegged at $1.74, indicating a 2.8% decrease from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure.
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