Chipotle plans to open 200 new restaurants this year

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Chipotle Mexican Grill anticipates opening 200 new restaurants in 2021, assuming minimal construction and permit delays related to COVID-19, the company said.

The company on Wednesday reported first-quarter net income of $127.1 million.

“As vaccines roll out and we get closer to moving past this pandemic, I believe Chipotle is well-positioned for growth,” said Brian Niccol, chairman and CEO, Chipotle. “I’m excited about our future as we remain focused on innovating in culinary, leading in food with integrity, and providing convenient access inside our restaurants and through our expanding digital ecosystem.”

Chipotle opened 40 new sites during the first quarter and closed five, bringing its total store count to 2,803. It is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants.

The Newport Beach, California-based company said it had profit of $4.45 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to $5.36 per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $4.92 per share.

The Mexican food chain posted revenue of $1.74 billion in the period, falling short of Street forecasts. Fourteen analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.75 billion.

Chipotle shares have risen roughly 9% since the beginning of the year. In the final minutes of trading on Wednesday, shares hit $1,507.62, an increase of 92% in the last 12 months.

Digital orders soared 133.9% during the quarter and accounted for 50.1% of sales. A little more than half of the digital sales were from order-ahead transactions. Chipotle said that 26 of the 40 new restaurants it opened during the quarter included its drive-thru “Chipotlane,” where customers can pick up orders that they placed through the company’s mobile app or website.

“These formats continue to perform very well and are helping enhance guest access and convenience, as well as increase new restaurant sales, margins, and returns,” the company said.

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