UPDATE 1-Traffic jump boosts Chipotle restaurant sales, stock soars

Lisa Baertlein
Thursday, 30 Jan 2014 | 4:47 PM ET

(Adds details on results, byline)

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc on Thursday said an increase in customer visits contributed to bigger-than-expected growth in quarterly sales at established restaurants, and its shares rose nearly 10 percent in extended trading.

The fast-growing burrito chain said sales at restaurants open at least 13 months, a closely watched gauge of industry performance, rose 9.3 percent during the fourth quarter, better than the 6.7 percent expected by analysts, according to Consensus Metrix. Most of the restaurant sales growth came from increased traffic, Chipotle said.

Net income increased nearly 30 percent to $79.6 million, or $2.53 per share, matching analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Food costs were 33.9 percent of revenue, an increase of 40 basis points, due mostly to higher avocado costs, but also to costs for tomato and corn salsa. Those increases were partially offset by lower dairy and steak costs.

Chipotle raised its 2014 forecast to call for low to mid single-digit same-restaurant sales increases, excluding any menu price increases. Its prior call was for an increase in the low single-digits.

Shares of Chipotle rose 9.7 percent to $542.00 in extended trading, after closing at $493.96.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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