Chipotle Mexican Grill‘s shares fell 5% in after-hours trading after the burrito restaurant chain reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings, revenue, and same-store sales that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.
People weren’t buying as many burritos in the holiday quarter. “Just as we got around the holidays we just didn’t see that pop, that momentum that we normally see,” said Jack Hartung, the chief financial officer, on a call with analysts. Trends improved in January, executives said.
Chipotle (ticker: CMG ) reported fourth quarter earnings of $223.7 million, or $8.02 a share, up 10.3% from a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share of $8.29 fell short of analysts’ expectations for $8.91 a share.
Total fourth-quarter revenue rose 11.2%, to $2.18 billion, slightly shy of the $2.2 billion forecast by analysts, according to FactSet. Operating margin increased to 13.6%, from 8.1% in the fourth quarter of 2021; restaurant-level operating margin grew to 24%.
But comparable restaurant sales of 5.6% fell below the 6.9% analysts had expected. In-restaurant sales increased 17.5%.
Chipotle’s shares are up 18% over the past 12 months, and 24% year-to-date.
The company said the benefit of menu price increases and lower avocado prices helped offset elevated costs for beans, rice, and salsa.
“We delivered strong growth in 2022, expanding average unit volumes and restaurant level margin, while opening the highest number of new restaurants in six years, despite facing a challenging and fluid macro environment,” CEO Brian Niccol said.
For the year 2022, Chipotle’s earnings rose 39.9%, to $899.1 million, or $32.04 a share. Adjusted earnings per share of $32.78 compared with analyst forecasts for $33.40 a share.
Full-year revenue rose 14.4% to $8.6 billion, slightly shy of the $8.69 billion expected, according to FactSet.
Comparable restaurant sales grew 8%, below the 8.3% expected.
Chipotle forecast first quarter comparable restaurant sales growth in the high-single digits, based on what it observed in January. The chain also expects to open 255 to 285 locations this year, including 10 to 15 relocations to add a drive-thru Chipotlane.
Its board authorized an additional $200 million to buy back shares.
Chipotle last month said it was looking to hire 15,000 employees ahead of “burrito season,” the period of higher demand between March and May.
Chipotle plans to more than double its North American locations to 7,000 restaurants long-term, up from 3,187 in North America and Europe at the end of 2022.
During the fourth quarter, Chipotle opened 100 new restaurants, including 90 locations with a Chipotlane. For 2022 as a whole, the company opened 236 new restaurants, including 202 locations with a Chipotlane.
Write to Janet H. Cho at email@example.com