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Chipotle shares reach all-time high on strong 3Q

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Chipotle Mexican Group hit an all-time high on Friday after the casual Mexican chain reported its third-quarter net income rose 15 percent as traffic surged.

THE SPARK: Late Thursday, the New York-based chain said revenue rose 18 percent to $826.9 million and raised its forecast for a key revenue figure for the year. It also said it would raise prices for the first time in three years.

THE BIG PICTURE: Chipotle, which has more than 1,500 locations, has surged in popularity because customers see it as being a step up from traditional fast-food chains such as Burger King and Wendy's. People also like that they can customize their orders, dictating which ingredients they want as they go down a line.

THE ANALYSIS: Stifel Nicolaus analyst Paul Westra said it was another "great" quarter for the chain, and said investors will be pleased about news of a price hike, which will help earnings.

"We are continually impressed with management's best-in-class operational initiatives," he said, including emphasis on driving transaction speed, and keeping ad spending low.

SHARE ACTION: Shares rose $67.86, or 15.5 percent, to $507.15 in late trading Friday after hitting an all-time high of $510 earlier in the day.