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: Chipotle earnings boosted by brisket, online sales and returning customers

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said Thursday that continued strong online sales, customers returning to its restaurants and the success of new menu items like brisket contributed to a strong quarter that beat expectations.

The fast-food restaurant chain reported third-quarter net income of $204.4 million, or $7.18 a share, compared with $80.2 million, or $2.82 a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted for costs related to stock compensation, corporate restructuring, restaurant asset impairment and closures and more, earnings were $7.02 a share. Revenue rose to $1.95 billion from $1.6 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast earnings of $6.32 a share on revenue of $1.94 billion.

Newport Beach, Calif.-based Chipotle

said its same-store sales increased 15.1%, beating analysts’ expectations of 14%.

The company is seeing momentum in online sales, which grew 8.6% to $840 million, accounting for 42.8% of revenue. Chief Executive Brian Niccol said on the company’s earnings call that digital sales are up to nearly $2.7 billion so far this year, nearly catching up with $2.8 billion in online sales last year.

The company said that for the fourth quarter, it expects comparable restaurant sales growth in the low to mid double-digits, but warned about continuing uncertainty because of inflationary pressures and labor — like other industries, the food-service industry is struggling with not having enough workers.

“I wish all our restaurants were fully staffed, and I know we’re missing sales because not all of them are fully staffed,” Niccol said.

Chipotle shares climbed as much as 2% in after-hours trading Thursday, after rising 1.1% in the regular session to close at $1843.83, but were in the red as of 6:20 p.m. ET. 

Shares of Chipotle have risen 33% year to date and nearly 42% for the past 52 weeks. By comparison, the S&P 500 Index

is up 21% so far this year and nearly 32% over the past year.

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