(By Balaseshan) Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG), which operates fast-casual, fresh Mexican food restaurants, reported a 6.8% rise in quarterly earnings on higher comparable restaurant sales. Despite revenue exceeding consensus, earnings missed Street's expectations by a penny.
Earnings for the fourth quarter were $61.35 million or $1.95 per share, up from $57.47 million or $1.81 per share last year.
Revenue increased 17.2% to $699.16 million, as a result of new restaurants not in the comparable base and a rise in comparable restaurant sales.
Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a profit of $1.96 per share on revenue of $698.86 million for the fourth quarter.
Comparable restaurant sales rose 3.8%, primarily driven by the impact of increased traffic. During the quarter, the company opened 60 new restaurants, bringing the total restaurant count to 1,410.
Food costs rose 130 basis points to 33.5% of revenue driven by higher commodity costs. Commodity costs rose due to increases in beef costs including steak and barbacoa, and to a lesser extent by increases in the cost of salsa ingredients and dairy.
Restaurant level operating margin fell 150 basis points to 24.6% primarily driven by higher food costs.
Looking ahead into the fiscal 2013, the company expects to open 165 to 180 new restaurants, and flat-to-low single-digit comparable restaurant sales excluding additional menu price increases. Effective full year tax rate is projected to be about 38.5%.
CMG closed Tuesday's regular session down 1.67% at $305.01. The stock has been trading between $233.82 and $442.40 for the past 52 weeks.