A generic image of a person on their laptop
Markets

Chipotle's Top Line May See Improvement In Q4'16; Fundamentals Remain Weak

Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG ) is scheduled to announce its fourth quarter and full year results on 2nd February, 2017. In the third quarter, the company continued to see its revenues drop, owing to the continued impact of the E.coli incidents. It failed to maintain the traction it saw in the second quarter of 2016, owing to promotional activities and the launch of the loyalty program, missing the consensus estimate for comps, in turn. However, since then the company's stock price has been seen trending upwards, likely due to its presentation at the international restaurant conference, where it updated investors on expected sales in Q4'16.

3107171

The upcoming quarterly results are expected to be relatively smooth as the company's performance will be compared to the relatively weak performance in 2015 due to the impact of E.coli at its restaurants. In the following note, we discuss some of the key trends that can be expected to be seen in the upcoming quarterly results.

The upcoming quarterly results are expected to be relatively smooth as the company's performance will be compared to the relatively weak performance in 2015 due to the impact of E.coli at its restaurants. In the following note, we discuss some of the key trends that can be expected to be seen in the upcoming quarterly results.

310717

Key Trends:

  • Chipotle's top line may rebound in Q4'16, after declining for consecutive quarters. This is attributable not so much to great operating performance by the company, but due to easier comparables now that the full impact of the E.coli incidence is built in the company's financials.

  • Furthermore, Chipotle mentioned that it sees restaurant-level operating margin of 13% to 14% in the quarter, up from previous quarters, due to its focus on reducing costs by way of decreased expenditure on raw materials such as avocado.

  • Comparable sales, at the Mexican restaurant, declined 20.2% in October 2016, and 1.4% in November 2016, but actually increased 14.7% in December 2016. Consequently, the decline in comparable sales was arrested at a drop of -4.8%, much better than previous quarters. Although the improvement has been attributed to the increase in comp sales in December, it is important to note that timing overlap have facilitated a period of easier comps.

  • Chipotle is trying to tweak its online ordering tools and looking at the introduction of "smarter pick-up times." This technology is used to predict and shorten soonest available pickup times for customer orders. It was launched in 1,100 stores in early December, has already resulted in a lift in visits to its website, and a conversion of a larger portion of these digital visitors being turned into buyers. Although the impact of digital innovation will be limited in the upcoming results, it will be the force driving revenues in 2017.

  • Chipotle is testing a dessert item at its restaurants. The management said that since the dessert adds only one ingredient not already found in their restaurants, it will not have a consequential operational impact. If the testing continues to go well, the dessert will be added to the restaurants in the spring of 2017.

  • Chipotle invested 26% more in marketing and promotional activity in the first half of 2016, as compared to the same period last year. The trend will continue, affecting the company's operating margins adversely, offset by lower raw material costs.

  • According to the marketing research firm, YouGov , a study done in late September 2016 concluded that the negative views about Chipotle were only 4.5% higher than the positive views, compared to 31.2% difference in late 2015. This means that we can expect some growth in the top line on the back of customers coming back to Chipotle.

  • The company continues to open new stores, thus increasing its store count. This is expected to act as a tailwind to decreasing sales at the existing restaurants.

  • Expansion into Europe could be a potential game changer for the company, given the slowdown in the U.S. If it is able to popularize foods like tacos and burritos in the region, we may see a restoration in its key statistics in the very near future.

  • The industry-wide slowdown in the restaurant sector continued in the fourth quarter. Restaurants have now posted four consecutive quarters of declining year-over-year sales. This is due to a fewer number of people eating out, and most of the consumer spending going towards big ticket purchases rather than soft goods. The following table gives a summary of the declining comps and traffic in the three months of the fourth quarter.
1701171

Have more questions on ( )? See the links below.

Have more questions about Chipotle Mexican Grill ( CMG )? See the links below:

  • Will Chipotle's Latest Marketing Gimmicks Pay-Off?
  • What Impact Can The Continued Fall In Spend Per Visit Have On Chipotle's Stock Price In The Next Year?
  • How Has Negative PR Affected Chipotle's Operating Efficiency?
  • What Can Produce Over 10% Upside To Chipotle's Stock In The Next Year?
  • How Is Chipotle Dealing With The Aftermath Of The E.coli Outbreak?
  • Down, But Not Out: Chipotle Returns To Profitability In Q2'16, Despite Weakness In Top Line
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill Q2 FY'16 Earnings Preview: Recovery In Top-line Likely To Be Weak
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill Struggles in Q1 FY'16 As Last Year's E.coli Controversy Impacts Comparable Sales
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill FY 2015 Earnings Review: E.Coli Scandal Hinders Top-line Growth
  • What's Chipotle Mexican Grill's Fundamental Value Based On Expected 2016 Results?
  • What Is Chipotle Mexican Grill's Revenue and EBITDA Bridge?
  • How Has Chipotle Mexican Grill's Operating Metrics Changed Over 2011-2015?
  • Where Will Chipotle Mexican Grill's Revenue and EBITDA Growth Come From Over The Next Three Years?
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill Q1 FY'16 Earnings Preview: E.coli Scandal Might Still Impact Top-line Growth

Notes:

1) The purpose of these analyses is to help readers focus on a few important things. We hope such lean communication sparks thinking, and encourages readers to comment and ask questions on the comment section, or email content@trefis.com

2) Figures mentioned are approximate values to help our readers remember the key concepts more intuitively. For precise figures, please refer to our complete analysis for Chipotle Mexican Grill

See More at Trefis |View Interactive Institutional Research(Powered by Trefis)

Get Trefis Technology

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.