Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) - Get Report is set to report first-quarter earnings results after the closing bell Tuesday. Investors who are looking for a beaten-down stock that could deliver a 20% move in the coming the weeks should buy this stock now.
For the quarter that ended in March, Wall Street expects Chipotle to report a loss of 94 cents per share on revenue of $868.52 million -- its first quarterly loss as a public company. That's compared to the year-ago quarter, when the company earned $3.88 per share on revenue of $1.09 billion. For the full year ending in December, earnings are projected to decline 59.3% year over year to $6.14 per share, while revenue of $4.36 billion would mark a decline of 3.2% year over year.
The company's shares have plunged 41.5% from their 52-week high. Depending on who you ask, the stock is either on the verge of more declines or is setting up for a nice bounce. From a technical perspective, the latter seems more realistic.
Take a look at the red arrow on the chart, courtesy of TradingView.
Chipotle stock closed Monday at $443.10, up 0.08%. Technical analysis shows that, even with less-than-stellar results Tuesday, Chipotle stock could head back toward the $533 area, which was the company's 100-day moving average in early March. This would be a $90 move, or about a 20% rise. While it's not likely to happen immediately following Tuesday's announcement, the stock has been in waiting mode for the past three months. That suggests any positive sign of a bottom will send it higher.
The shares have lost 7.7% of their value year to date, adding to 12-month declines of 30.5%. Those drops were driven by news of multiple outbreaks of E. coli and other food-borne illnesses. But likely much of the panic selling is over. Chipotle stock has established strong support around $400, and the shares seems ready to recover.
The stock has gone nowhere in the past three months, and has even netted a slight gain of 0.21%. In other words, much of the stock's one-year decline occurred prior to January. The market has already digested all of the bad news. And it's confirmation that anyone who wanted to sell Chipotle shares has likely already done so.
If it were not for the punishment the entire market suffered at the beginning of the year, Chipotle shares, which had become broken technically, would have been around $30 higher, trading near levels before its fourth-quarter report. So a rise to, say, $474 is now more realistic than a decline. Chipotle has a consensus hold rating and an average analyst 12-month price target of $500. The risk vs. reward balance is now positive.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.