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Chipotle continues to propel sales expectations and promises

Chipotle Mexican Grill

CMG 1.93%

finally gives investors something to feel comfortable about.

The Burrito maker's shares rose Wednesday after the company posted better-than-expected earnings and sales in the first quarter.

For over two years, Chipotle has been struggling to recover customers after a series of food safety crises. In February called the chain

Brian Niccol,

Former Chief Executive of Taco Bell, its new CEO, replacing founder Steve Ells

President Niccols, who led his first win as Chipotle CEO, thanked Mr. Ells, who continues to chair the board, for giving him the autonomy to name your own team and change the chain's strategy. Mr. Niccol has already hired a new Marketing Director and HR Manager.

"The opportunity is clearly a recovery story in the US," said Mr. Niccol. He would not elaborate his plans. He said he would hold a conference call before Chipotle's next quarterly report to discuss his recovery plans with investors. Shares, up 28% last year, rose more than 1

0% to $ 374.99 in after-hours trading Wednesday.

Chipotle recently published ads that show the quality of its components. Analysts had criticized a previous campaign that did not focus on eating the chain, and Mr. Niccol said the company would continue to test ads to understand what is resonating.

"Since Brian's arrival, we have all re-viewed part of our business," Chief Financial Officer

Jack Hartung

said on the call.

Chipotle's revenue increased 7.4% in the last quarter after the Quick Service restaurant chain raised its menu prices. The company also opened 35 new restaurants and reported a 2.2% increase in comparable restaurant sales.

Analysts interviewed by FactSet had estimated a 1.3% increase in sales of the same products. First-quarter revenue increased from $ 1.07 billion a year ago to $ 1.15 billion.

The Denver-based company reported a profit of $ 59.4 million, or $ 2.13 per share, compared to $ 46.1 million or $ 1.60 per share a year earlier , Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters projected earnings of $ 1.57 per share on revenue of $ 1.15 billion.

For 2018, the company expects comparable restaurant sales to increase in the low single digits. It also expects the opening of 130 to 150 new restaurants.

Write to Julie Jargon at [email protected] and Aisha Al-Muslim at [email protected]

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