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Chipotle’s Q3 comps rise on growing traffic, menu-price increases

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Comp sales at Chipotle Mexican Grill grew 2.6 percent year over year during the third quarter, the result of increasing customer visits as well as higher menu prices in select markets, the fast-casual chain said Tuesday.

Net income at the chain grew 10.8 percent compared to year-ago quarter, to $144.9 million, rising on revenues of $1.2 billion.

“Chipotle’s third quarter results demonstrate the continued success of our vision to change the way people think about and eat fast food,” co-CEO Steve Ells said in a statement. “As we have grown our restaurants through the year, we are able to push our standards higher in what we can accomplish with our food culture.”

Though generally seen as a darling of the fast-casual segment, Chipotle garnered some potentially damaging press during the third quarter, as the chain faced legal action for several food-poisoning cases as well as “misleading” claims about GMOs’ presence on its menus. It also became the target of an attack campaign spearheaded by Rick Berman’s Center for Consumer Freedom.

In addition, the chain struggled to fill supply gaps for its carnitas offerings after suspending a supplier, an issue Chipotle has almost fully resolved in Q4. 

Buoyed by Q3 growth, the chain raised its guidance for unit openings for the rest of the fiscal year, noting it planned to open 215 to 225 new restaurants, up from the 190 to 205 it previously expected.

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