Chipotle behind the counter

Chipotle stock falls after sales fall shy of expectations

By Alysha Khan

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. cracked the billion-dollar earnings mark with a 52. 3 percent increase in earnings for the fourth quarter but sales fell just short of analyst expectations and the stock fell 6.42 percent to $679.85 in after-hours trading.

“Quite simple, I do not think that we would be able to deliver these results without such a compelling and relevant vision,” said CEO Steve Ells on a conference call with analysts.

The Denver-based company earned $121.2 million, or $3.84 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter ended December 31, compared with $79.6 million, or $2.53 per diluted share, in the year-earlier quarter. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected $3.78 per diluted share.

Revenues rose 26.7 percent to $1.07 billion from $844.1 million in the year-earlier quarter but fell just shy of analyst expectations of $1.074 billion in revenue.

Sales for locations open more than 12 months rose 16.1 percent in the fourth quarter and 16.8 percent in 2014. Chipotle owns 1,783 locations, 192 of which were opened in 2014.

For the next year, the chain anticipates opening 190 to 205 new restaurants and a low to mid-single digit increase in sales for locations open more than 12 months.

For the full year 2014, Chipotle reported earnings of $445.3 million, or $14.13 per diluted share, up 27.8 percent from the year-prior $327.4 million, or $10.47 per share. Revenue increased to $4.11 billion from $3.21 billion.

Photo at top: Despite a robust fourth quarter, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s sales fell just short of analyst expectations and the stock fell 6.42 percent to $679.85 in after-hours trading (Jessica Gable/Medill)