After Chipotle's stock reached its 52-week high of $727.97 on Jan. 8, it fell 18% to $597.33 on July 6, partly on concerns about weakening margins and slower same-store-sales growth. The shares have bounced back some, though. On Friday, the stock closed at $661.95.
The shares still have value ahead of the company's second-quarter earnings report, which is scheduled to be released on Tuesday. The stock has fallen 3% so far this year, although they have more than doubled over the past three years and have risen almost five-fold in the past five years.
The gains have been driven by consistent execution as management has offset the high costs of beef and chicken with price increases.
At the same time, the company continues to look for ways to increase its store value and boost traffic by launching smaller restaurants, which will help Chipotle achieve higher returns on capital. Chipotle should be able to keep construction costs low and save money on occupancy costs because of the smaller size of the restaurants. Those maneuvers should fuel profits long term.
On Tuesday, the company is expected to post second-quarter earnings of $4.46 a share on revenue of $1.22 billion, which would be increases of 27% and 16% from a year earlier. For the full year, earnings are projected to climb 23% to $17.36 a share, and revenue is expected to rise 16% to $4.75 billion.
The company has beaten the average analyst earnings estimate for five straight quarters. During that span, revenue growth has averaged 25%. With analysts' average 12-month price target at $740, investors would be best served by buying and holding these shares for the next year.