Strong same-store sales lift Chipotle net

by Eric Schroeder
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DENVER — Strong sales spurred a 56% gain in net income at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in the first quarter. Net income in the first quarter ended March 31 was $12,440,000, equal to 38c per share on the common stock, up from $7,988,000, or 26c per share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2006.

Sales in the quarter climbed 26% to $236,095,000, up from $187,015,000, driven by growth in revenue from new restaurants. Analysts had predicted sales of $228 million for the first quarter.

"We are pleased with our strong first-quarter financial results, which reflect our continued progress in pursuing our ‘Food With Integrity’ mission, as well as progress toward building a culture that appeals only to our highest performing employees," said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and chief executive officer. "We recently introduced naturally-raised chicken in one of our largest markets, Colorado, and now two-thirds of the chicken we serve is naturally raised. As we advance ‘Food With Integrity,’ we move closer to our goal of changing the way Americans think about and eat fast food."

Chipotle said it opened 28 company-owned restaurants during the quarter, and plans to open between 110 and 120 new restaurants by the end of the year.

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