Chipotle Hits All-Time High on Stifel Upgrade

Chipotle is upgraded to buy from hold and the stock's price target is raised at Stifel.
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Chipotle Mexican Grill  (CMG) - Get Report shares hit record highs Wednesday following a bullish note from Stifel in which analysts raised the fast food restaurant's rating to buy from hold.

The firm also raised the stock's price target to $1,500 from $1,400. Chipotle shares were climbing 4.5% to $1,407 on Wednesday. The stock traded earlier at a record high of $1,421.

"Chipotle has demonstrated impressive resilience during the pandemic, and we believe the brand should benefit in 2021 from increased consumer mobility and several sales-building initiatives," said Stifel analyst Chris O'Cull. "In addition, we believe Chipotle offers some of the most compelling unit growth prospects within the restaurant industry."

Chipotle's quarter-to-date comp sales are in line with Wall Street's estimate of 6.2% growth and Stifel's estimates of 6.8%, according to the firm's review of mobile location data. 

During the pandemic Chipotle has only reported one quarter of negative comps. 

"This is a testament to the company's ability to improve convenience with digital initiatives," O'Cull said. 

"The pandemic accelerated consumers' digital ordering and delivery adoption at restaurants, amplifying Chipotle's already fast-growing digital user base."

The company's third-quarter sales represented 49% of total sales, which was up nearly 20% from fourth quarter 2019 totals. In addition, the Chipotle rewards program has doubled enrollment totals to 17 million over the same timeframe. 

"Chipotle also has a considerable runway for new unit development with the sales and margin contribution of the company's Chipotlane format anticipated to reach a more meaningful percentage of the total footprint over the next few years, which should drive healthy margin expansion," O'Cull said.