New highs for Chipotle as Street predicts momentum will continue

|About: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG)|By:, SA News Editor

"With most restaurants struggling to drive positive traffic, CMG remains an anomaly, justifying an outsized valuation, with scarcity worth the premium," says Barclays in response to Chipotle's (CMG +12.8%) big Q2 beat. However, the firm is hesitant to recommend shares, given they now trade at 39x forward EPS.

"As more of Chipotle’s markets are touched with menu price increases this quarter, the company is teed up for at least another two quarter of strong earnings growth," thinks Belus Capital.

The company attributes only 250 bps of its 17.3% same-store growth (blew away a consensus of 10.5%) to its price hikes. Average transactions during peak lunch and dinner hours each rose by 8 Y/Y, and average check size rose by 5%, thanks partly to larger group sizes.

Chipotle did admit on its CC (transcript) its price hikes led to a "slight shift" among customers from steak to chicken, but insists "customers have generally responded well" otherwise. The company also noted it's experimenting with take out-focused restaurants that have limited seating, particularly in U.S./European locales with high real estate costs.

Prior Chipotle earnings coverage