Chipotle Mexican Grill smashed first-quarter earnings expectations amid a 17.2% rise in same-store sales.
The fast-casual chain anticipates opening 200 new restaurants in 2021, assuming minimal construction and permit delays related to COVID-19, the company said. Chipotle opened 40 new sites during the first quarter and closed five, bringing its total store count to 2,803. It is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants.
“As vaccines roll out and we get closer to moving past this pandemic, I believe Chipotle is well-positioned for growth,” said Brian Niccol, chairman and CEO, Chipotle. “I'm excited about our future as we remain focused on innovating in culinary, leading in food with integrity, and providing convenient access inside our restaurants and through our expanding digital ecosystem."
Chipotle reported net income of $127.1 million, or $4.45 per share, for the quarter ended. March 31, up from $76.4 million, or $2.70 per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding closure costs, restructuring expenses and other items, the company earned $5.36 per share, easily topping the $4.89 per share expected by analysts.
Revenue rose 23.4% to $1.74 billion, in line with expectations. Comparable sales increased 17.2%, fueled by new menu items, strong digital sales and stimulus payments.
Digital orders soared 133.9% during the quarter and accounted for 50.1% of sales. A little more than half of the digital sales were from order-ahead transactions. Chipotle said that 26 of the 40 new restaurants it opened during the quarter included its drive-thru “Chipotlane,” where customers can pick up orders that they placed through the company’s mobile app or website.
“These formats continue to perform very well and are helping enhance guest access and convenience, as well as increase new restaurant sales, margins, and returns,” the company said.