Fast casual chains struggle to match Chipotle's recipe for growth

|By:, SA News Editor

Shares of Noodles (NDLS) and Panera Bread (PNRA) trade lower in premarket action after the fast-casual restaurant chains fail to come anywhere close to matching the double-digit comparable-sales growth that Chipotle (CMG) churned up for the first quarter.

Restaurant sector analysts have noted that speed of service and simplicity of menu are two significant factors in the segment.

Panera Bread is addressing its "mosh-pit" order pickup issue, while Noodles thinks it can regain traffic to bring scale back into play for margin expansion.

Execs with both companies made a strong case during their earnings calls that Q1 results were due to transitory or one-time factors.

Conference call transcripts: NDLS, PNRA

Premarket: NDLS -6.5%, PNRA -5.6%, CMG -0.3%