With Its Latest Earnings Results, Chipotle Sizzles

Last week, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced fourth-quarter and full-year results for fiscal 2013. The above-average results indicate that Chipotle continues to experience solid momentum as a result of its powerful brand recognition among consumers.

On a year-over-year basis, EPS in the fourth quarter grew 29.7% and revenue grew 20.7%. For the full year, Chipotle's results were also impressive, as the company managed to increase diluted EPS 19.7% while revenue advanced 17.7%.

In after-hours trading, shares of Chipotle achieved record highs. Plus, the stock was up a staggering 83% in 2013 alone.

The growth drivers
Probably the most impressive piece of news to come out of Chipotle's latest earnings release was also what has been driving the company's robust growth as of late. In the fourth quarter, sales of comparable restaurants rose an impressive 9.3%, which was way above the average analyst estimate of 6.5%.

In the company's earnings release, management stated, "Comparable restaurant sales growth was primarily driven by the impact of increased traffic."

However, despite the company's already sizable restaurant count, which currently stands at 1,595, Chipotle continues to open new locations at a furious pace. In the fourth quarter alone, the company opened 56 new restaurants. For full year 2013, Chipotle opened 186 new locations, which represents year-over-year growth of 13.1%.

Additionally, management is targeting 180-195 new restaurant openings in 2014, meaning the company will most likely match its 2013 new store opening count and possibly even exceed it. For 2014, management is also targeting low- to mid-single digit comparable-store sales. However, this number does not reflect any menu increases, which I would not be surprised to see in the coming year.

Also major drivers of future growth are the company's two new restaurant brands, ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale, which are the company's take on Southeast Asian food and pizza, respectively. Although management continues to warn investors about viewing these brands as meaningful drivers of growth in the short term, in the long term they represent significant opportunities for Chipotle to capture entirely new audiences.

Still a growth leader
If Chipotle's latest earnings results reveal one thing, it's that the company is still a growth leader in the restaurant industry. The company's growth compared to peers is impressive. The following is Chipotle's expected growth for 2014 compared to that of smaller competitor Panera Bread and larger competitor Yum! Brands :



Panera Bread

Yum! Brands

Revenue Growth 2014




EPS Growth 2014




Yum! Brands Main Facebook Page

I chose to compare Chipotle to Panera Bread and Yum! Brands because to me these two companies represent what Chipotle used to be and what it strives to be, respectively. Whereas Chipotle used to have only one restaurant brand like Panera Bread, it now has three distinct brands, even though two of them are still in their infancy. In my opinion, Chipotle is fast on its way to becoming a global restaurant leader like Yum! Brands, albeit one with higher-quality products and services.

Either way, Chipotle is expected to experience the most aggressive revenue growth out of all listed peers in 2014 by a significant margin. In terms of EPS, Chipotle's growth is even better, although it is projected to lag slightly behind Yum! Brands'. However, it is worth noting that Yum! Brands is coming off a particularly bad fiscal 2013 in which it is projected to post revenue and EPS declines.

Not too late

Despite Chipotle's fantastic growth story, which started approximately 20 years ago, and the stock's massive run up last year, the company remains one of the best investments in the restaurant industry.

With solid growth still left in the Chipotle Mexican Grill brand and with two new restaurant brands that are only just beginning to emerge, Chipotle should continue to spice up portfolios in the long term. Accordingly, Chipotle will continue to remain one of my largest holdings in 2014.

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The article With Its Latest Earnings Results, Chipotle Sizzles originally appeared on Fool.com.

Philip Saglimbeni owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Motley Fool recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. The Motley Fool owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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