After a 5% decline over the last six months, at the current price of around $1552 per share, we believe Chipotle Mexican Grill stock (NYSE: CMG), a fast-casual restaurant chain that focuses on fresh and organic ingredients in burritos, salads, and more – could see modest gains. CMG stock has declined from around $1630 to $1552 over the last six months, almost in line with the broader indices, with the S&P falling about 3% over the same period. CMG’s stock decline can be attributed to investors’ concern about rising food costs. Chipotle is at a slight disadvantage to other major fast-food companies as it serves fresh ingredients. The costs for avocados, taco shells, and beef have, in particular, increased in price in FY 2022.
But, it is worth mentioning that Chipotle has remarkable store economics. Its average restaurant sales rose 7% year-over-year (y-o-y) to $2.8 million in Q4 2022, despite adding 100 new restaurants over the same period – illustrating that the additions are not cannibalizing existing locations. In Q4, the company’s sales increased 11% year-over-year (y-o-y) to $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022. However, its comps increased by 5.6%, which represents a slowdown from previous quarters. Comparable sales are in a decelerating trend after CMG reported a 10.1% comp for Q2 and 7.6% in Q3.
Despite the increase in CMG’s input food costs, the firm’s restaurant margin expanded 380 basis points in Q4, to 24.0% of sales – thanks to the pricing power that the company holds. In FY 2022, the company increased prices by a whopping 13%. The year before that it increased prices by 8%. CMG’s fourth-quarter operating margin also increased from 8.1% in 2021 to 13.6% in 2022. This improvement was attributed to the benefit of sales leverage, as well as lower delivery fees associated with a lower volume of delivery transactions. Consequently, its adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $8.29 in Q4 2022 increased from $5.58 in Q4 2021.
We have updated our model following the Q4 release. We forecast Chipotle’s Revenues to be $9.8 billion for the fiscal year 2023, up 14% y-o-y. Looking at the bottom line, we now forecast the earnings per share to come in at $42.19. Given our revenues and EPS forecast changes, we have revised our Chipotle’s Valuation to $1658 per share, based on a $42.19 expected EPS and a 39.3x P/E multiple for the fiscal year 2023 – almost 7% higher than the current market price.
For the full year 2023, the company counts on opening 255 to 285 new restaurants, with over 80% including the Chipotlanes (which allows guests to pick up digital orders through a drive-up or a pickup window). The company reiterated its long-term goal of having 7,000 locations in North America, more than double the 3,187 stores Chipotle operates today. Furthermore, annual unit sales are expected to exceed $3 million in the future. Chipotle’s initiatives in the digitalization of stores, store growth, Chipotlane additions, and price increases have helped the company grow its top and bottom lines. Going forward, the company shouldn’t be forced to raise prices entirely to accomplish growth. An increase in store count and store volume should also certainly improve the company’s prospects. However, if the present inflationary pressures continue to persist, it is likely that the broader markets may see lower levels in the near term. And, a further dip in CMG stock can be used as a buying opportunity for better gains in the long run.
While CMG stock looks poised for more gains in the future, it is helpful to see how its peers stack up. Check out how Chipotle’s Peers fare on metrics that matter. You will find other valuable comparisons for companies across industries at Peer Comparisons.
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.