Stock Groups

Valuation Leaves Little Room for Error By TipRanks


© Reuters. Chipotle Stock: Valuation Leaves Little Room for Error

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) has seen a significant increase in share price over the past year due to its improving fundamentals.

The company owns and operates 2,724 Chipotle (NYSE:) restaurants in the United States, 40 international Chipotle restaurants, and four non-Chipotle restaurants. 

The Q2 sales increased 31.2%, and the margins were also better. Although the future of the company looks bright, we remain neutral on CMG. (See Chipotle stock charts on TipRanks) 

Industry Analysis, Growth Catalysts 

Pre-pandemic, the global fast food and quick service restaurant market size was valued at $257.19 billion, and was forecasted to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1% from 2020 to 2027. 

The expected market growth is due to an increasing global preference for fast food among Generations X, Y, and Z, an increase in the number of fast-food restaurants, and technology advancements.

Of course, the pandemic disrupted things in 2020, but the underlying trend remains intact. Advancements, and the increasing adaptation of technology, have made it easier for people to get the meals they want. 

Think of apps like Uber (NYSE:) Eats or SkipTheDishes, or curbside pickup options. Chipotle is a restaurant that offers convenience. 

Speaking of convenience, Chipotle is investing in it through opening more “Chipotlanes,” which are essentially drive-thrus. The good thing about Chipotlanes is that their unit economics are better than regular restaurants. 

Here is what Chipotle’s CFO, Jack Hartung, had to say about Chipotlanes in the most recent earnings call: 

“New Chipotlanes are opening with about 20% higher sales compared to the non-Chipotlanes opened during the same time period. Over the trailing 12 months, Chipotlanes restaurant continues to drive about a 15% higher overall digital sales mix compared to non-Chipotlanes, and it’s skewed heavily towards order ahead, our highest margin transaction.” 

Chipotle anticipates that adding Chipotlanes will improve the company’s returns on capital. This makes sense because as mentioned in the quote above, Chipotlanes generate higher margin revenue, which should give a boost to overall margins going forward. Long-term, management expects margins increase. 

Besides Chipotlanes, Chipotle opened a digital kitchen location in 2020 that offers only pickup and delivery. CMG can use these additional locations as a growth engine if they decide it’s worth the effort. 

With the opening of new locations and an expected increase in average unit volume (from $2.41M to $3M), CMG’s revenue is forecasted by analysts to increase by 25.7% in 2021, and 13.9% in 2022. 

Main Risks 

CMG’s stock is currently near all-time highs. The stock is up 42.8% and 58.2% year-to date, respectively, and 17.8% and 27.8% for the past years.

A lot of optimism could currently be priced into the stock, as one might be able to tell from the stock’s runup, 71.4x EV/FCF multiple, and 8.2x EV/Sales multiple, which is the highest this multiple has ever been with data going back to 2006. 

The high optimism leaves little room for error, and makes the stock vulnerable to large price drops on any disappointing news. 

As well, particularly from 2015-18, CMG had been involved in many food illness outbreaks which hurt the company’s reputation and financial performance.

Chipotle investors should be aware that an outbreak could occur at any moment and that if the news is widely reported, it can cause a significant drop in stock prices. Nonetheless, this doesn’t seem to be a problem for now.  

Wall Street’s Take 

Turning to Wall Street, 23 analysts offered 12-month price targets for Chipotle in the last three months. Chipotle has a Moderate Buy consensus rating, based on 16 Buys and seven Holds. 

The average CMG price target is $1,913.45, with a high forecast of $2,600 and a low forecast of $1,600. The average price target represents 1% upside from current levels.

Final Thoughts 

Chipotle can continue to execute going forward, but the risk/reward is not great, as the stock is near all-time highs, and has an extended valuation.  

Stock Bros Research didn’t hold any positions in the securities discussed in this article at the time it was published.

​Disclaimer: The information contained in this article represents the views and opinion of the writer only, and not the views or opinion of TipRanks or its affiliates, and should be considered for informational purposes only. TipRanks does not warrant the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information. This article is not intended to be interpreted as an offer or recommendation for the purchase or sale of securities. The article does not provide legal, financial, investment, or professional advice. It also doesn’t take into consideration the individual needs or requirements. Neither is the information contained in it a complete or comprehensive statement about the subject or issues discussed. TipRanks or its affiliates are not responsible for the contents of this article. Any action you take based on the information is your responsibility. TipRanks’ or any affiliates does not endorse this article or make it a recommendation. The past performance of TipRanks or its affiliates is not an indication of future prices, results, or performances.