Shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG) closed up 1.33% to $520.08 Tuesday after JPMorgan Chase & Co. increased the restaurant operator's stock price from $475 to $500 a share.
Analyst John Ivankoe maintained his "neutral" rating on the company's stock. Ivankoe hosted a lunch with CEO Brian Niccol and other management, and afterward said in a research note that the team delivered an "all-positives message." Chipotle's multi-year initiatives will likely drive "well-above average" comp and margin growth in an industry where neither is easily achieved, Ivankoe told investors.
Niccol came to Chipotle last year from Taco Bell, where he was also chief executive. He replaced Chipotle founder and chairman Steve Ells.
Chipotle last released its quarterly earnings results on Oct. 25. The restaurant operator reported $2.16 earnings a share for the quarter, beating analysts' estimates of $2 a share. Chipotle Mexican Grill had a return on equity of 17.14% and a net margin of 3.96%.
The Newport Beach, Calif.-based company reported revenue of $1.23 billion during the quarter, in line with analysts' expectations of $1.23 billion.
Chipotle Mexican Grill is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Feb. 6. Analysts expect the company will post $8.43 earnings a share for the current fiscal year.
Chipotle's stock took a pounding three years ago following a series of food-borne illness outbreaks. The stock once hit a high of nearly $759 a share. A year ago, Chipotle was trading at $330.23 a share.