Chipotle Mexican Grill
First up is $14 billion restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG - Get Report). Chipotle has been one of the biggest success stories in the restaurant industry, churning out fast-paced growth and major profitability during a time when other names were struggling.
But with shares off by more than 15% this year, are the shorts right about downside in Chipotle? Doubtful.>>7 Food Stocks to Weather the Drought Chipotle operates in the fast-casual segment of the market, a model that fills the space in between fast food chains and casual dining restaurants. That's proven to be a successful model in our post-recession world, with consumers trading down on their dining choices but looking for something healthier and more exciting than the traditional fast food joint. With approximately 1,300 restaurants in 42 states and four countries, CMG has proven its willingness to dip a toe into new markets. While international exposure is a good thing, North American growth is the most important avenue for expansion in the next several years. With room for the firm to more than double the number of stores it has stateside before it starts to saturate the market, there's a good reason for the hefty earnings multiple investors are paying right now. Better still, Chipotle has almost exclusively used cash from operations to finance its growth so far, maintaining an immaterial amount of debt on its balance sheet that's more than offset by a nearly $700 million cash and investment position. Short sellers have been betting against this stock en masse. While the firm's short interest ratio only sits at 4.6, indicating that it would take a week for shorts to cover, more than 12% of CMG's total float is short right now. That makes the firm a prime candidate for a short squeeze right now.