Chipotle ($CMG) reported earnings after the bell on Tuesday, February 4 and disappointed analysts, despite their top-line beat - and even said they’re planning to launch new restaurants this year. Chipotle manages a massive chain, and apparently, it's going to keep getting bigger - but, how well it can grow, seems to be holding back the stock, which sunk in after-hours trading on Feb. 4.
This is how big. After years of aggressive expansion, Chipotle opened 140 new restaurants in 2019 and plans to open 150 to 165 more this year.
That doesn't mean the American consumer's interest has begun to taper off, though. Since 2010, Google searches for “burrito” have increased by 184% in America. We even made a business of the “sushi burrito” in 2016, when people decided sushi wasn’t large or inconvenient enough. The new decade is as good a time as any to check in on burrito trend leaders Chipotle. Last year, the company’s shares surged 94%.
There’s been a steady rise in menu prices since former Taco Bell ($YUM) CEO Brian Niccol took over Chipotle in 2018. The average menu price has gone up from $4.50 this time last year to $5.25 today, a 16% increase - and, it's gone up 12% just over the past few months.
But a spike in cost won’t keep customers away from their precious wrap, especially when it’s as convenient as ever to order it. Chipotle’s digital sales grew by 88% in the third quarter. Part of the problem is Big Burrito's proliferation - new chains, food trucks - and a slew of new competitors for Chipotle.
Only time will tell if the burrito's reign will endure. But, burrito or bowl, Chipotle is under a hot spotlight - and its competition is only growing.
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