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UPDATE 1-Chipotle sales beat expectations on new items, digital ordering

Hilary Russ

(Adds executive quote from investor call, byline)

NEW YORK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc reported higher-than-expected quarterly comparable store sales growth on Tuesday, boosted by the addition of healthier meals to its menu and expanded delivery options.

Sales at restaurants open for at least 13 months rose 11% in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, beating analysts' estimate of 9.27%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income rose to $98.6 million, or $3.47 per share, from $38.2 million, or $1.36 per share, a year earlier.

The Mexican fast-casual chain also reported adjusted earnings per share of $3.82, a full 60 cents above a mean forecast of $3.22, according to Refinitiv data.

Chief Executive Brian Niccol struck a modest tone about the positive news.

"We are still in the early stages of our journey, and we need to stay focused on our priorities," he said during a call with investors.

Since Niccol took over as CEO in February 2018, the company's turnaround plan has gained traction, putting behind it the E. Coli bacteria outbreaks that sickened customers in 14 states through early 2016.

Chipotle's share price has nearly doubled since the start of this year. (Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru and Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Maju Samuel and Richard Chang)