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Edited Transcript of CMG earnings conference call or presentation 24-Apr-19 8:30pm GMT

Q1 2019 Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc Earnings Call

DENVER Apr 26, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 8:30:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Ashish Kohli

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - Head of IR

* Brian R. Niccol

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director

* John R. Hartung

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO

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Conference Call Participants

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* Andrew Michael Charles

Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director

* Brian John Bittner

Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst

* Brian Michae Vaccaro

Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - VP

* David E. Tarantino

Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Co-Director of Research and Senior Research Analyst

* Gregory Ryan Francfort

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Associate

* Howard Wells Penney

Hedgeye Risk Management LLC - MD

* Jake Rowland Bartlett

SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Analyst

* Jeffrey Andrew Bernstein

Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Equity Research Analyst

* John Stephenson Glass

Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD

* John William Ivankoe

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Restaurant Analyst

* Nicole Miller Regan

Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division - MD & Senior Research Analyst

* Sara Harkavy Senatore

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst

* William Everett Slabaugh

Stephens Inc., Research Division - MD

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good afternoon, and welcome to the Chipotle Mexican Grill First Quarter 2019 Results Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) Please note, this event is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Ashish Kohli, Global Head of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

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Ashish Kohli, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - Head of IR [2]

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to our first quarter 2019 earnings call. By now, you should have access to our earnings press release. If not, it may be found on our Investor Relations website at ir.chipotle.com.

I will begin by reminding you that certain statements and projections made in this presentation about our future business and financial results constitute forward-looking statements, including projections about comparable restaurant sales growth and new store openings. These statements are based on management's current business and market expectations and our actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Please see the risk factors contained in our 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K and in our subsequent Form 10-Qs for a discussion of risks that may cause our actual results to vary from these forward-looking statements.

Our discussion today will include non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of these measures to GAAP measures can be found via the link included on the presentation page within the Investor Relations section of our website.

We will start today's call with prepared remarks from Brian Niccol, Chief Executive Officer; and Jack Hartung, Chief Financial Officer, after which, we will take your questions. Our entire executive leadership team is available during the Q&A session.

With that, I will turn the call over to Brian.

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [3]

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Thanks, Ashish, and good afternoon, everyone. I'm very pleased to report strong Q1 results with 9.9% comparable restaurant sales growth that includes 5.8% transaction growth. Restaurant level margins of 21%, 150 basis points higher than last year. Earnings per share adjusted for unusual items of $3.40, representing 60% year-over-year growth and digital sales growing 101% year-over-year to represent 15.7% of sales.

The ongoing improvement in each of these key metrics over the past few quarters gives us confidence that our mission to win today and cultivate the future is resonating. In fact, this is the fifth consecutive quarter of accelerating comps, which reinforces our view that when we connect with guests through culturally relevant marketing focused on Chipotle's great taste and real ingredients and provide more convenient access with less friction, they responded enthusiastically.

The first quarter's strong results were driven by the same strategic focus areas that we've talked about for several quarters now: being culturally relevant and increasing brand engagement and visibility, digitizing and modernizing the restaurant experience, great hospitality and throughput and of course, enhancing our powerful economic model, all while building a great culture of accountability and creativity.

We were definitely visible this quarter, with unique marketing programs that celebrate our real ingredients and classic cooking techniques as well as several initiatives that caught the attention of our guests.

As you know, last fall, we launched our For Real advertising, which showcased Chipotle's point of difference in real ingredients and real cooking techniques. We followed this up with our Behind the Foil campaign in February to showcase what a Chipotle kitchen looks like every day: real fresh ingredients, real cooking techniques and real people.

Chipotle has always believed that there is a connection between how food is raised and prepared to how it tastes. And what I love most about these commercials is there was no studio, no script, no props and no actors. It was just our employees doing what they do best, which is making delicious food.

In addition, Q1 also benefited from several other initiatives that made the Chipotle brand more visible in culturally relevant social and traditional media channels. Our Free Delivery Bowl offering, which ran from December 17 to January 7, helped expand access and was not only a great way to attract new guests to our app and delivery capabilities, but also to Chipotle, as nearly half of the guests taking part in this offer were new or lapsed users. And we are seeing increased new customer retention with higher levels of delivery sales after the promotion.

We also launched our first digital-only menu innovation on January 2 called Lifestyle Bowls. This resonated with consumers in a big way. In fact, during the first few days, it generated over 1 billion earned media impressions. Later in the quarter, we extend the lifestyle menu platform with plant-powered options, highlighting our sofritas and vegetarian bowls. We are currently testing several other menu items through our stage-gate process and will update you on their progress over time.

And finally, we continue to drive awareness of our brand through a holistic media plan, with national TV advertising on culturally relevant programming like March Madness, and always on social media that resonates with our guests. Collectively, these marketing efforts help drive culture, drive a difference and ultimately drive a Chipotle purchase. This contributed to the lift in Q1 sales, as evidenced by digital impressions increasing 300% year-over-year and social impressions increasing 400% year-over-year. We are pleased with the returns on our marketing dollars to date and expect healthy returns from programs being worked on for the remainder of 2019.

We are also excited about Chipotle Rewards, which launched on March 12. The stage-gate process allowed us to learn, enhance and optimize the program to ensure a better guest experience upon launch. And we're encouraged to have already enrolled 3 million members. The rewards are spend-based, where customers earn 10 points for every dollar spent and receive a free entrée after accruing 1,250 points, with periodic bonus offers, so real food becomes real free, real fast. In addition to allowing us to reward and thank our guests, we are beginning to gather data that can be used to more effectively target them to engage and grow their loyalty. The Rewards program gives us a currency that we can use to incent behaviors and is a key part of our digital system flywheel. Our guests have been asking for a loyalty program for a long time, and now the more you eat Chipotle, the more you can get free Chipotle.

We believe that Chipotle Rewards will be a key element that will provide topspin to our digital system, which was, again, a key driver of our sales growth. The digital system, which includes order ahead, delivery, catering, digitized second make lines, mobile order pickup shelves and now Chipotle Rewards, is creating a more convenient and enjoyable guest experience, making it easier to order from -- order food from Chipotle however and wherever you like.

To that end, I am pleased to share that we recently completed the addition of mobile order pickup shelves in all relevant restaurants. These self-service shelves are a key element in digitizing and modernizing our restaurant experience. As they increase access, speed of service and convenience for our guests, while building more love for Chipotle and driving digital sales. In addition, this is a key component to improved delivery times.

The delivery driver no longer waits for orders when they enter our restaurant, they simply go straight to the shelf, select the appropriate order and head off to the delivery destination. We feel this is a competitive advantage and allows us to have industry-leading delivery times. I want to thank our teams for their great execution on this initiative.

Also with regard to our digital make lines, they are currently in approximately 1,300 restaurants, and we expect to have them in all applicable restaurants by the end of 2019. Early results are showing that restaurants with mobile over pickup shelves and digital make lines generate digital sales above our national average.

Through a combination of delivery, order ahead and catering, our digital sales accelerated from Q4 and grew 101% year-over-year in quarter 1. Digital sales totaled $206 million during the quarter and it represented 15.7% of sales. We also relaunched a new chipotle.com website in February that's helping increase customer conversion. We are pleased to be averaging more than 1 million digital transactions per week.

Delivery remains a key driver of our digital growth, given enhanced capabilities on our app and website as well as our expanded reach. As I mentioned earlier, we are seeing some residual lift in delivery sales that last beyond any promotion and have seen very little guest overlap between our own in-app delivery and our third-party delivery partner apps.

As part of our goal to increase access, we continue to open Chipotlanes and this test will ramp up later in 2019. These restaurants are a great extension of our digital system as they help increase convenience and access to Chipotle for customers looking to pick up digital orders without getting out of their cars.

While marketing and digital are helping to bring guests into our restaurants, the operations team is determined to deliver a great experience that will keep them coming back. Specifically, we are focused on team stability and development, creating and supporting an inclusive, engaged culture, exceptional throughput, consistently delivering great-tasting food and food safety. Our field leadership conference last month allowed us to reiterate these messages, while also highlighting the theme that Chipotle is a people-driven, world-class organization. A key part of this is to continue supporting and celebrating our general managers through better leadership training, providing a clear direction on career progression to ensure long-term success and great benefits as illustrated by our enhanced tuition assistance program. While early, these efforts are beginning to make a difference. We experienced a solid reduction in overall turnover measures in Q1, which tells us we're on the right path with our people-focused initiatives.

We are now consistently executing line tastings and leveraging chef-driven cooking demonstrations to improve the quality of our food and these efforts are being noticed by guests as measured by our guest experience survey. In addition to these outcomes, we are seeing a modest improvement in throughput, aided by training, focus and providing our teams with an easy-to-use dashboard that provides greater visibility on performance. We still have more work to do, but I am encouraged by the progress thus far, and we are aligned in our approach and believe that great execution will enable Chipotle to capitalize on future growth opportunities.

As we continue to evolve our brand and grow the business, it is an honor to welcome Patricia Fili-Krushel and Scott Maw to our Board of Directors. Pat is currently the CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation and has previously held numerous leadership roles at Comcast, Time Warner and WebMD. Scott recently retired as CFO of Starbucks after a long and successful career. With their contributions in global business strategy and talent management, to finance and risk management, I'm confident both Pat's and Scott's perspectives and valuable insights will help us accelerate our goals.

With that, let me conclude by thanking all of our team members for their belief in Chipotle. Their dedication and passion to provide our guests with a great experience, serving real food cooked to perfection and prepared in our restaurants with fresh ingredients. Whether I'm our restaurants or in our support centers, I feel the energy and see the right actions being taken day in, day out. It's this focus and strong execution that has brought us to where we are today. The care, hard work and dedication on the line, in the kitchen and in our support centers are the reasons we are winning in the marketplace. We're off to a great start in 2019 and with our sustained efforts, I believe Chipotle can cultivate a better world.

With that, here's Jack to walk you through the financials.

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [4]

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Thanks, Brian, and good afternoon, everyone. I'm very pleased to report another strong quarter as both comps and margins accelerated from our last report. The biggest lever to strengthening our economic model has always been comp sales and transaction growth. And the Q1 results illustrate that point as we achieved our highest restaurant level margin in nearly 4 years.

Customer engagement and visits are increasing as a result of a compelling marketing message, more convenient access, including delivery, and strong operations. Sales were $1.3 billion in the quarter, an increase of 13.9% from last year and comp sales growth of 9.9%. This 9.9% comp includes a reduction of 30 basis points as a result of deferred revenue from our loyalty program.

Restaurant level margins of 21% expanded 150 basis point over last year and earnings per share adjusted for unusual items was $3.40, representing 60% year-over-year growth. The first quarter had unusual expenses related to the transformation and these negatively impacted our earnings per share by about $0.27, leading to GAAP earnings per share of $3.13.

In Q1, we recognized $7.5 million in nonrecurring expenses, primarily related to the organizational restructuring. Transformation costs, which started last year, now total about $98 million, and we continue to expect these charges to total between $100 million and $120 million.

The EPS of $3.40 includes $7.3 million or $5.5 million on a tax effective basis. And G&A related to higher bonuses, higher noncash performance-based stock comp adjustments and higher employer payroll taxes all related to our strong performance and the strong performance of our stock. The higher stock price also contributed to a tax benefit of 480 basis points in the quarter as stock option exercises and R2 vesting at the higher stock price drove excess income tax deductions. This tax benefit offset the higher performance base cost included in G&A, resulting in no net impact to EPS. And I'll talk in more detail about these impacts later.

Our Q1 comp of 9.9% was driven by a healthy acceleration in transactions, as 5.8% of the comp came from greater guest visits. The higher average check includes a price impact of roughly 2.5% and a mix contribution of 2% driven by growth in digital orders, which have a higher average check.

With the launch of our Chipotle Rewards loyalty program, accounting rules require us to deduct or defer revenue for anticipated reward redemptions in our current comp sales. This negatively impacted our Q1 comp by about 30 basis points.

We're pleased that our customers have responded enthusiastically to our digital strategies and our culturally relevant marketing, which drove increased guest visits this quarter. And our restaurant teams welcomed our customers by providing a great guest experience.

With these strong Q1 sales results, we're increasing our full year comp guidance from mid-single digits to mid- to high single-digit range, with price contributing about 2%. Our comparisons get more difficult as the year goes on. And for Q2 specifically, recall that last year's second quarter benefited by about 100 to 200 basis points from the beginning of our partnership with DoorDash in May and from the start of our spring marketing campaign.

Finally, the revenue deferral of 30 basis points in the quarter related to loyalty is expected to increase each quarter as we acquire more customers and is likely to hit 100 basis points or more before redemptions cause the deferrals to level off.

We opened 15 new restaurants in the quarter, and returns for new restaurants continue to be strong, with projected year 2 cash on cash returns in the low 40% range. Our development teams continue to emphasize high-quality and high-returning sites.

For 2019, we continue to expect to open between 140 to 155 new restaurants, with the weighting towards the second half of the year. We anticipate Q2 openings to be slightly higher than what we saw in Q1.

Food costs for the quarter were 32.2%, a decrease of 20 basis points from last year as leverage from the December price increase was partially offset by higher protein prices. Our supply chain team drove approximately $2 million in cost savings through more efficient sourcing this quarter. And while we expect to find additional efficiencies, it's too early to quantify the impact, which we expect to materialize later this year or early next. Of course, our #1 priority is to continue to pursue a high-quality, sustainably raised ingredient and our pursuit of efficiencies will never be at the expense of food quality or food safety.

While avocado prices were stable throughout most of the quarter, in late March, they began to spike based on higher demand from retailers who've been aggressively advertising the fruit, combined with lower expected supply in the short term, due to the reduced harvesting during the Easter holiday and a lighter California crop this summer. We expect Q2 food cost to increase around 100 basis points from Q1. For the full year, we continue to believe food cost will be right around 33%.

Labor costs for the quarter were 26.7%, a decrease of 110 basis points from last year. This decrease was driven primarily by sales leverage and the menu price increase. We also decreased our worker's comp liability due to better management of claims activity, and we experienced lower unemployment expenses. These benefits were partially offset by labor inflation, which continues to be in the 4% to 5% range. We expect Q2 labor cost to be in the low 26% range as leverage from sales growth and the menu price increase is expected to offset ongoing wage inflation.

Other operating costs for the quarter were 13.4%, an increase of 50 basis points from Q1 of last year, as higher marketing and promo costs more than offset sales leverage.

Marketing and promo costs were 2.5% in the quarter, an increase of about 70 basis points compared to Q1 of last year, to fund our Behind the Foil campaign in February and Free Delivery Bowl campaign in early January. We expect to increase our marketing investment to around 3.5% in Q2, but still expect overall marketing and promo budget for the full year to be right around 3% of sales.

Other operating costs were also higher due to the inclusion of delivery fees. Delivery continues to be the fastest-growing part of our business with high incrementality. And from a margin standpoint, because of the efficiency of our dedicated second make line, along with the higher leverage our economic model generates on incremental sales, delivery continues to be accretive to our margins.

G&A for the fourth (sic) [first] quarter was 7.8% of sales or $103 million, which included nearly $5 million related to transformation expenses, nearly $25 million related to non-cash stock compensation, higher bonus accruals related to our strong performance and payroll taxes and stock option exercises, along with $1.5 million for expenses related to our biennial field leadership conference. Without these items, our underlying G&A support totaled about $72 million, right around what we expected.

We expect our underlying G&A support to remain around this level for the rest of the year. And while total G&A each quarter should be lower than the $103 million in Q1 as we complete the transformation of our company and those related costs fall out, the total G&A each quarter will vary as a result of these performance-based charges and the level of option exercises. As an example, stock comp in the quarter includes an upward revision of $1.9 million in our non-cash stock comp related to performance shares. Unlike stock options and restricted stock grants, the accounting expense associated with performance shares will adjust up or down each quarter over the vesting term based on actual performance. Our annual grants have evolved over the past few years to become more heavily weighted toward these PSUs, with the percentage of overall equity grants growing from less than 10% in 2017 to about 1/3 in 2019. While these PSUs, which are tied to improving margins and comps, are effective in aligning company performance and incentive pay with the creation of shareholder value, the variable accounting treatment can cause volatility in our reported quarterly G&A costs.

Another component of G&A that's difficult to project and will fluctuate quarter-to-quarter is the employer payroll taxes on stock option exercises and stock vesting. These costs will vary depending on the stock performance and the timing of when our employees choose to exercise.

Depreciation expense for the quarter was $53.8 million, which included $1.8 million of accelerated depreciation related to our digital make line project progressing more quickly than initially anticipated. For the full year, we expect depreciation to be about 4% of sales.

Asset retirements were higher this quarter, as we retired assets we identified last year as we completed the big fix.

Our effective tax was 22% on a GAAP basis and 21% on a non-GAAP basis, both lower than our communicated range of 27% to 30%. Our effective tax rate benefited from option exercises and restricted share vesting at elevated stock prices. In essence, we receive a tax deduction for the value our employees receive upon option exercise or share vesting, and when that value exceeds the fixed accounting charge for those shares, we benefit from a higher tax deduction. For the remainder of 2019, we expect our underlying tax rate to be at the low end of our previously disclosed 27% to 30% range, though it may vary quarter-to-quarter, based on the factors I just mentioned.

Our balance sheet remains strong, with cash and investments totaling $735 million as of March 31. We repurchased $52.4 million of our stock at an average price of $567 per share during the first quarter. Even though there are fewer shares outstanding and trading as a result of these purchases, our diluted weighted average number of shares increased 422,000 shares as a result of more options being in the money, given the higher share price. This negatively impacted EPS by $0.05 in the quarter.

In closing, we're encouraged by our Q1 results and the progress we're making against our strategic growth plan. We know that great (inaudible), many of which are in the early stages, will help drive sustainable, long-term growth for Chipotle. This will benefit our guests, our employees and our shareholders, and it will allow us to have a positive impact on how real food is sourced and made accessible, contributing to our vision of cultivating a better world.

And now we're happy to take your questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from Sara Senatore with Bernstein.

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Sara Harkavy Senatore, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division - Senior Research Analyst [2]

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I have a question about delivery, if I may. And first part is just, you've seen an inflection point that I don't think we've observed in any other limited service in terms of launching delivery and releasing a change in the comp. So I was wondering if you could maybe talk about what you think might be distinct about your concept or what you're doing, where you could see that level of incrementality that we're not really seeing perhaps elsewhere? And then just on the margin side, you said it is accretive to margin, but then also called it out as a cost headwind, so could you talk a little bit about that? And if there's any opportunity perhaps to lower the cost of delivery, whether it's the take rates that your -- the aggregators have or something else?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [3]

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Sure. So we'll answer both of those questions. So your first question, why do we believe Chipotle is a great solution as with respect to delivery? I think it's as simple as our food really travels well in the channel. And then, when you think about the time and the ease of access, to actually get your order in and then the amount of time that it takes for your food to then get to you, it's some of the best in that space. So we're basically removing a lot of obstacles for people, because the app experience or the web experience, I think, is one of the best out there. So it's very easy for people to place orders. And then when you look at the time for people to get their food from order to home, again, it's one of the best alternatives out there for that space. So time and time what we hear is delivery drivers love delivering Chipotle's food because of our Smarter Pickup Times, so they know the food will be ready when they walk into the restaurant, they grab it off those pickup shelves and they go. And there's literally no wasted time in the process. And that's what we're going to continue to work towards, is removing all the friction so that the deliveries become as efficient as possible.

In regard to your question on the margins and incrementality, we continue to see, as we give people more access, we get more incremental business and delivery is one of those occasions that is proving to be highly incremental for the Chipotle business. And on the margin side of things, we are continuing to see with that high level of incrementality, it results in a margin accretive proposition. Jack, I don't know if you want to add anything?

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [4]

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Yes, the only thing, Sara, when we look at delivery and we take the sales, some of it is trade-off that we think is coming from in-store to delivery. Most of it, we think at least 2/3, is incremental. But we take our cost associated with that business, so it's separated as a separate business, and we've got our food cost, our internal labor costs and you factor in the delivery costs as well. Our second make line is very, very efficient and our incrementality, our model, drives a high margin on incrementality. That's -- the margin that we get on the delivery business is higher than the 21%. So if we didn't have delivery, we would not have delivered the 21% margin. Now I called out in other that we do have delivery fees in there. So you're going to see that line item is going to be higher, but when you take the whole P&L of delivery together, we're generating net incremental margins that are higher than 21%.

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Operator [5]

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The next question comes from Nicole Miller with Piper Jaffray.

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Nicole Miller Regan, Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division - MD & Senior Research Analyst [6]

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Congratulations. If you could think about same-store sales performance and rank the drivers, it does sound like delivery is #1, but I'm just wondering what kind of TV marketing impact you would suggest there was an comp? And then in terms of delivery, when you think about the 15% or so of sales in delivery, how much is going through your app and how much is going through other third-party marketplace sites? And besides having the ability to keep your data when it comes to your app, what are some of the other economic differences?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [7]

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Yes, the first piece, I just want to clarify, the 15.7% is digital, so that's percent of sales in digital. Within that 15.7%, delivery makes up a certain percentage of that. So I just want to make sure that you guys understand that 15.7% is not a delivery percent of sales, that's our total digital percent of sales. To go to your first question though, the breakdown between the various levers that drove comp, now I really think we just had a lot of things working in unison that were building nicely on top of each other. You have the marketing, which I think was very visible, with some smart menu innovation around these ideas of Lifestyle Bowls. And then we've got very positive response to the advertising, which I think reinforces why Chipotle is a different kind of restaurant company, right? It's real ingredients, real cooking techniques that brings food really fresh to you at tremendous speed and tremendous value. So I think that is coming through loud and clear, and we know that is a compelling message for people to be excited about being part of the Chipotle business. The other piece, obviously, is our digital business. As we continue to make access easier, so there's mobile pickup shelves getting to more restaurants, the digital make lines getting to more restaurants, we just execute that much better than we did the prior week. And what we're seeing is consumers love the app experience, they love the new website experience and that's resulting in them committing, I think more and more, to this easier access approach through the digital channel.

And then you layer in the idea of delivery, which our delivery times are usually below 30 minutes and what we're hearing from folks is they love obtaining that new point of access as well. I think we're also one of the only companies out there that has delivery both in our own app and is using a third-party partner, like a DoorDash or those that are delivering for us. And what we're seeing is no overlap between the 2 access points. So they're proving to be 2 different occasions and -- which is really terrific news. And we have built strong relationships with our partners, where we're able to use data smartly to inform what we do next, as well as in the data we're collecting internally.

The other thing, too, is the Rewards program got started, and one of the things that's terrific about the Rewards program is we see another level of engagement into our digital system. So you see even more come in with the idea of digital ordering, as well as all these additional access points.

So the last piece, too, is I would tell our operations, if you had a chance to be in a Chipotle lately, I think they have really improved versus where we were 3 months ago, 6 months ago or even 9 months ago. Our crews are staffed, they know about how to make great food, they're doing line tastings, the restaurants look great and we're making progress on throughput.

So when you think about all the initiatives that are going on, our operations, I think, are operating at a higher level than they have in the past. I think our digital system is more robust than it was in the past. And I think our marketing is much more on point and much more visible. So it's hard to distinguish one versus the other. I really think it is all those things working in unison and that's why we got that 9.9% comp.

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Operator [8]

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The next question comes from David Tarantino with Baird.

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David E. Tarantino, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Co-Director of Research and Senior Research Analyst [9]

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Just a couple of questions on the sales trends. Jack, first, can you maybe talk about how the comps trended through the quarter? Was it sort of a gradual build? Or any color you could add there would be helpful.

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [10]

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Yes, David, so we started the quarter very strong. We had the Free Delivery Bowls, that continued into January, now we have Lifestyle Bowls as well. There was a lot of buzz about the Lifestyle Bowls, so the quarter started out very, very strong. We had weather then in the middle of the quarter and then things rebounded near the end of the quarter, so there's a lot going on in the quarter. It was overall relatively steady if you factor out some of the weather. So but we did start out, like I said, we started out very strong, and then settled into a nice cadence through the quarter, with the exception of the weather during the middle of the quarter.

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David E. Tarantino, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Co-Director of Research and Senior Research Analyst [11]

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Great, that's helpful. And then Brian, you mentioned that the guest experience surveys that you run have responded well to the operational improvements you mentioned. So I was wondering if you could perhaps elaborate on where you are now on whatever metric you're measuring versus where you were 3 or 6 months ago? And how much do you think that might be influencing the trends that you're seeing relative to some of the more tangible drivers you talked about?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [12]

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Yes, sure. So one of the biggest things that we've seen, maybe dramatic change is just the feedback on the food tasting. And I think that's a direct result of our teams being basically focused on ensuring they're creating great food and they are doing their line tastings. And so one of the examples I would give you is, what we see in customer satisfaction surveys is people are commenting on how great the food tastes again. And I think that is a testament to a couple of things. You don't end up with great food unless you get through the line quickly; you don't end up with great food unless the people make the food correctly. And you don't end up with great food if, when you sit down and go to eat your food, it's not in a great environment. So all those things I think help build the idea that, boy, this food is terrific. The other thing that we're seeing in our customer satisfaction surveys are people are just giving us high marks on overall experience versus where we were in the past. So it's a customer satisfaction survey, it's the best way for us to get that feedback and we're very excited about the momentum we're seeing out of those key metrics.

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David E. Tarantino, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division - Co-Director of Research and Senior Research Analyst [13]

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And then just a quick follow-up. Brian, I think you shared some throughput metrics in the past related to your peak 15-minute intervals. And I think the last update you gave us was 25 transactions in the peak on average for the chain, and it used to be 35 before all the issues. So can you maybe just give us an update on where you are, heading into the peak season here, on that metric?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [14]

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Yes, so I think I made a comment in my early remarks. We're seeing some improvement on that mid-25, that mid-twenties number. And we're excited about the improvement that we've seen. We're not, I think, done getting better on this throughput front. We're obviously not close to that mid-30 number that you referenced, David. But we're definitely making progress from the mid-twenties. And I think this is going to be one of those things that over time, we just continue to get better at. This is an element of having teams in place with some stability, with the right leader in place, so that they really get into a rhythm of great throughput. But early indications, we're making some progress on this front already and we're excited, because there's still so much headroom to get us back to where we were.

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Operator [15]

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The next question comes from John Glass with Morgan Stanley.

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John Stephenson Glass, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [16]

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First, can you just comment, Brian, a little more about the loyalty program? How do you -- how does this fit in as you think about comp drivers? And you talked last quarter about a material step up in trend when you did delivery and activated digital. Did it result, or is it too early to tell if this is also resulting in another step function up in sales? Or does it take longer to sort of, to engage consumers, given that it takes some time to accrue the points?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [17]

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Yes, I think, John, it's going to take a little bit longer for us to see the direct impact. What we are excited about, though, is, I think I've said this in the past, one of the big requests from our consumers was a Rewards program. We've rolled out a Rewards program, and now we've already got about 3 million people enrolled. And we're just getting started with using that information to then smartly market to those individuals. So there's kind of a few things that are going to be happening over the next year, right? We're going to continue to build that enrollment. And as you build that enrollment, it gives us a bigger universe then to create the right programs to incentivize behaviors and hopefully, change behaviors associated with it. But I don't think we've seen the impact yet from the Rewards program, because we're just getting started with the enrollment and we're frankly just getting started with doing some targeted marketing, leveraging that.

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John Stephenson Glass, Morgan Stanley, Research Division - MD [18]

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And if I can just, one follow-up. On labor, Jack, the -- my calculation is labor dollars per store ran a bit higher than what you would call your wage inflation, about 6% versus wage inflation of 4% to 5%. And if that's right, is this just the cost of higher throughput and higher volumes in your stores? Or is that the right way to think about labor dollars per store going forward, if your comps are at this new higher run rate?

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [19]

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Yes, John, our labor was really outstanding during the quarter. Our teams staffed and deployed at about the right level. They certainly didn't have more hours than we would've expected. If anything, they were a little more efficient than we would normally shoot for, but we had a burst in volume. So when you add that kind of a 9.9, and you should think about the comp as being a 10.3, because that deferral means we had customers that came in, they were paying customers. And so it's a journal entry to take us from about a 10.2 or 10.3 down to a 9.9. And so our folks had the right amount of labor. The way I would think about it, John, is we levered labor by over 100 basis points. We also dealt with about 100 basis points or a little more in terms of wage inflation. And so we had to cover the 100 basis points of wage inflation. And then we levered another 100 basis points, and we only had a modest price increase. So I think our labor's outstanding and I think if we stay at these kind of sales levels, we should stay at this kind of labor level.

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Operator [20]

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The next question comes from Jeffrey Bernstein with Barclays.

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Jeffrey Andrew Bernstein, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Equity Research Analyst [21]

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I just wanted to follow up on the Chipotle Rewards loyalty program. I mean it seems like 3 million members is pleasing to you, relative to perhaps your internal expectation and I would assume you therefore have customer information now on these 3 million. I wonder if you can go into a little more color in terms of how you'd measure ultimate success, whether -- how that membership compares to what you think are your total unique users? And Brian, you mentioned kind of the one-to-one marketing, I'm just wondering how should we think about that playing out in terms of using the data to effectively market to those loyal users?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [22]

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Sure. So I think that is one of the most valuable pieces of the Rewards program, is it creates a different type of engagement and relationship with our customers. What we saw in our proof of concept or our test markets, is this data, when we turn it into communication, is able incent behaviors and when you see behavioral changes, so a light user becoming a medium user, a non-user becoming a light user, and you see people moving to various cohorts. We're early days. We haven't even had, for a lot of -- we have 3 million people, which we're delighted about, but those are coming in on a daily basis. So we haven't had a chance to market with these folks on a couple of month basis yet. So it's really early, but I think the positive is we've got a lot of evidence that consumers want to be a part of it and we've had evidence in our test markets that when we use the data smartly with them, we do see behavioral changes that results in a positive outcome for our sales growth.

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Jeffrey Andrew Bernstein, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Director & Senior Equity Research Analyst [23]

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And then just to clarify, you mentioned the digital sales being, I guess, that's just shy of 16%. But I know you mentioned that some stores are obviously doing a whole lot better than that. So I'm wondering if you could maybe give some sort of perspective in terms of a range across the country in terms of where you're seeing the greatest success? And how you'd measure the, I guess, the incrementality of those sales relative to more traditional sales?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [24]

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Sure. So we've seen where we've got the full digital system in place, definitely a higher percent of sales come through the digital channel, with higher sales in general. And I think we even talked about this, another example is the Chipotlane, where you really have added another level of access, and this is why we're continuing to expand that test. We've seen percent of sales for digital touch 30%. So we are very optimistic that there still is a lot of growth to be had and a lot of that growth is incremental to the business. So we're very optimistic about continuing to drive this access point and that whole ecosystem.

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Operator [25]

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The next question comes from John Ivankoe with JPMorgan.

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John William Ivankoe, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Restaurant Analyst [26]

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I was hoping to understand the experience of the stores that have had the pickup shelves and the digitally enhanced second make line the longest? Has there been a significant labor opportunity on a given number of transactions that can be realized in those stores versus the stores that have newly implemented those projects or perhaps even, [best] said, the stores that don't yet have those projects?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [27]

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Yes, I mean what is definitely true is the most valuable transaction is an order ahead, whether it's in mobile or a website, and then that consumer comes in and picks it up from the shelves, because obviously, that leverages then that digital make line, which requires less labor to run and then obviously, that transaction usually comes with a higher ticket as well. So that is the most valuable transaction for us to grow. One of the things I love about the Chipotlane test is it gives them more access to that highly valuable transaction, right? Because they order ahead, and now they don't have to even get out of their car to have an experience a burrito or bowl coming off our second make line. So there's a lot of upside in getting more and more business to that second make line, just from an efficiency standpoint. And then, obviously, for the consumer, the speed at which they can get to their burrito or bowl.

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John William Ivankoe, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Restaurant Analyst [28]

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Okay. And then secondly, and I think this was touched on briefly, some of the broader supply chain work that you've been working on, I mean if we could have an update on some timing and potential benefit on that, especially if you look into '20?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [29]

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Sure. So we're early days on this, and we're already starting to see some benefit in the quarter. Their focus is obviously to continue to be as efficient as possible without making a trade-off on the quality and our commitment to our food with integrity principles. I don't know, Jack, if you wanted to add anything to that?

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [30]

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Yes, John, I think the headline is it's too early. Brian's right, that's our highest priority. We're also keeping ourselves busy just by keeping up with the growing volume, and we are -- we're seeing theoretical opportunity, the efficiency opportunity, but they take time. We've got contracts, we've got a lot of suppliers. And so I would expect that we'll be able to, if we don't see the benefits flow through later this year, perhaps in the fourth quarter, we'll at least have better visibility, and we can tell you what those might look like going forward.

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Operator [31]

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The next question comes from Jake Bartlett with SunTrust.

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Jake Rowland Bartlett, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [32]

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Jack, I had a question about G&A, and you gave us the underlying, I think $72 million run rate kind of continuing. I'm trying to understand the stock-based comp. And I believe you mentioned $25 million, but that also included bonus accruals, I wasn't sure if that all was really the stock-based comp.

And then if you hit your guidance, if the current guidance is hit, is that $25 million pertain for the rest of the year, I mean is that the right run rate for that, for bonus accruals and stock-based comp? And then built into that question, there's a big impact on the tax rate with the $25 million, would the tax rate go down as well to offset some of it? I'm trying to get a better idea of what the G&A could be for '19.

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [33]

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Yes, well, first of all, let me try to piece that -- tear that apart. The $25 million, of that, $19 million relates to our stock comp. And of that $19 million, about $2 million is an adjustment to stock comp. Because we had better performance, we have, as we've disclosed in our proxy, we over the last couple of years have emphasized more PSUs, performance shares. Now those performance shares will be marked to each quarter based on how we actually perform. If you follow us historically, when we've issued SOSARs or options, those are fixed accounting and they don't change quarter-to-quarter, doesn't matter what our performance is, doesn't matter what the stock performance is. So it's a different animal that aligns better, we think, the incentives with creating shareholder value, but it is going to have variable accounting, and we're going to have journal entries that are going to happen throughout the year. The other $6 million relate to the higher bonus accrual because of our performance, and that's going to be a cash bonus based on how we perform each quarter. And so if we continue to perform at this level, there will be higher bonus accruals.

And then another element in there is that because our stock has performed so well, we've had an increase in the number of stock option exercises, and we have to pay payroll taxes on those. Those are very difficult to predict when those are going to happen. Also difficult to predict what the stock price is going to be. So there's going to be a number of things that are going to be not part of our core. The G&A this quarter, didn't have to do with extra headcount, didn't have to do with extra travel, didn't have to do with anything from an ongoing basis that we need to continue to spend to support our restaurants, but these are incentive-based things that are going to hit based on how we perform throughout the year. Difficult to predict exactly what the number will be. I think the best way to think about it, underlying's about $72 million. And underlying means that's our headcount to support our business, that's the travel, that's the outside services to support our business. There is kind of a base layer, I would say, of about that $17 million of stock comp, that if we had fixed accounting, that $17 million would not change throughout the year. And then on top of that, we're going to have amounts that will vary depending on our bonus accrual and that will be performance-based. Depending on the PSUs, and that will be performance-based, based on margins and what our stock comp is. And then to the extent that, that our folks exercise options, the stock price remains high, there may be some payroll tax impact as well.

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Jake Rowland Bartlett, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., Research Division - Analyst [34]

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Got it. That's very helpful. And then just secondly, on -- Jack, you've mentioned in the past, and specifically last call, kind of a framework around AUVs and what AUVs could have given restaurant level margin. I had trouble getting there. And so I'm just kind of wondering, whether when you talked about last call, $2.2 million in AUVs and 22% restaurant margins, is that still -- or does that include inflation going forward? Is that kind of if you were standing right now with your current cost structure, and you had those higher AUVs, that's what your margin would be? I'm trying to understand whether that's really how we can frame that target and kind of mesh the 2 with those AUVs.

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [35]

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Yes, Jake, it's more of a standing still and in fact, we're right on the money right now. Our trailing 12-month average volume is 20.5 -- $2.05 million with a 21% margin during this quarter. And what I've talked about is, $2 million, you're at about a 20% margin. $2.2 million, you're at 22%. The way I would think about it from here, if we layered on $100,000 worth of incremental volume, as of today, our margin, instead of 21% during the quarter, would be -- with that extra $100,000, would be a 22%. Okay, now, over time, inflation is going to have an impact there. We have to either offset inflation through modest price increases and/or leverage from higher sales. But as long as we're able to offset inflation over time, our model has the ability to expand margins at about 100 basis points for each $100,000 of sales added.

And I think probably the most important thing is, we've been able to do this as our delivery business is growing dramatically. And we know in the industry, that's been a real challenge. We think we're uniquely suited with the second make line and efficiencies we drive with that second make line, and our model that inherently allows us to create leverage margin, leverage as we grow sales. We're very optimistic that the more we add delivery sales to our business, that margin has the ability to continue to drift upward.

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Operator [36]

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The next question comes from Andrew Charles with Cowen and Company.

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Andrew Michael Charles, Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division - Director [37]

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Jack, I had a 2-part question for you. You called out projected year 2 cash on cash returns in the low 40% range. Obviously, a very stellar return. You -- do think there's going to be a delta between the 2018 and 2019 cohort, as 2018 development was skewed to some of the higher-volume markets, while you're testing some of the higher-cost prototypes in 2019?

And then secondly, is the low 40% return, is that a strong enough hurdle to justify accelerating development back to, call it, the 250 openings per year you opened at the peak?

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [38]

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Yes. First of all, in terms of 2018 versus 2019, I mean it's early. We only have 15 restaurants in so far. But I don't see any reason why 2019 performance wouldn't be similar to 2018, meaning similar volumes, similar margins, similar returns. It does suggest that we have an opportunity to step it up and open up more restaurants. We know that we're only halfway to our ultimate potential. We're about 2,500 restaurants now with the ability to get to 5,000. So it suggests that we can step it up. But we're going to do it in a very thoughtful way. This is not going to be we're going to blow the doors off and go from -- our guidance this year is 140 to 155, we're are not going to all of a sudden open up 200 or 250 or something like that. What's most important is that we open at a pace that we're able to find great real estate, continue to generate these kind of returns, that we'll be able to hire and develop and staff our restaurants with great managers and great crew. So we'll have the right cadence going forward, but I do think you can expect us to take our opening guidance up each year in an incremental fashion. Too early to say how much that would be in 2020, but we're optimistic about the results and we'll step it up from here.

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Operator [39]

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The next question comes from Gregory Francfort with Bank of America.

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Gregory Ryan Francfort, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Associate [40]

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Just the first question is G&A on a longer-term basis. Maybe can you help frame up how you expect that to grow versus revenue? And then the second question was just, just on unit opening cadence within the year, I think last quarter, you had given us that the second quarter was going to be around 25% of the openings for the year, is that still the case, or is it different from that?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [41]

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What was your first question?

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Gregory Ryan Francfort, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - Associate [42]

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I'm sorry, yes, it was just your plans for G&A on a longer-term basis and leveraging it versus revenue growth?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [43]

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Yes, go ahead, Jack.

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [44]

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The underlying G&A, and I have to emphasize underlying G&A, underlying G&A will grow at a lesser rate than sales growth, okay? That's our goal internally and I know we can achieve that goal. From a stock comp standpoint, we're going to have journal entries. Remember, these are journal entries. And the journal entries are different today because we have PSUs, than the journal entries we would report 3 or 4 years ago, when we had SOSARs.

Even though we're issuing equity, even though there's dilution related to this equity, the accounting treatment is dramatically different. And so it's important to understand that these journal entries that we're making, it doesn't change our cash flow, it doesn't change our cash on cash return, but it does going to show up in our G&A journey through these accounting journal entries.

The underlying G&A, and that's the head count, the travel, the outside services, that we use to support our restaurant, we do plan to grow that at a lesser percent of sales. And then we're going to have cyclical things like we're going to have a quarter where there's a lot of option exercises, then we're going to have a blip in payroll taxes. That's not a sustainable fundamental thing that will continue in every single quarter, and we're going to have, when we have great years like this or great quarters like this, you're going to have bonus accruals, but the idea there is that will be a match, along with our and proving out the economic model, and it really sets us up for continued momentum, both in our sales, our margin as well as EPS.

And then the second question was I think on opening. I think I mentioned in my comments, Q2 will open up at a little bit more than the 15 that we opened up in the first quarter. So this is going to be one of those years where we're pretty, more heavily loaded in the second half of the year than we've been in quite some time.

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Operator [45]

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The next question comes from Will Slabaugh with Stephens.

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William Everett Slabaugh, Stephens Inc., Research Division - MD [46]

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I had a question on menu innovation. And what we've seen in the past is, menu innovation that generally uses ingredients already in-store. Should we expect future menu innovation rather to mostly take that same form? Or is there room to broaden the SKUs in the restaurant at this point?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [47]

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Yes. You're going to see us doing both. Obviously, what we did in the first quarter was leverage existing ingredients that were already on the line. But I think I've mentioned this before, we're using our stage-gate process to evaluate either new ingredients and/or new forms, to bring into the restaurant. And one of our key criteria, in order to bring in a new form or an all-new ingredient, is it can't have an impact on throughput. So consumers got to love it, it's got to work financially, but it also has to work for our operating process. And so as a result, it's going to take a little bit longer time to bring things to market that are either a change in process or require new equipment or a new form, versus it's much easier to do things like a new ingredient or introduce people to a new way or a new Lifestyle Bowl, like we did in the first quarter, but the plan is to do both.

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Operator [48]

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The next question comes from Howard Penney with Hedgeye.

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Howard Wells Penney, Hedgeye Risk Management LLC - MD [49]

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My question's on delivery. Is DoorDash funding part of the delivery? Or are you funding all of the delivery costs? And if you are, given all the benefits that you're seeing from delivery from a margin perspective and the enhanced capability of delivery, why wouldn't you offer delivery free all the time, and if not all the time, 3 to 4 days a week?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [50]

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So obviously, delivery is one of those access modes that consumers definitely want to experience. This is a scenario where we want to set up the model to be a model that can work long term, not just here in the near term. And long term, we can just be planning to do free delivery all the time. So really, what we're focused on is how do we build the right economic model where the consumer gets a great experience, they get a great value and as a result, they want to do more. And I think that's what we're setting up and establishing with our key partners, whether they're doing it through our app or with a third-party.

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Operator [51]

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The next question comes from Brian Bittner with Oppenheimer & Co.

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Brian John Bittner, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Research Division - MD and Senior Analyst [52]

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Jack, you said labor costs in 2Q should be in the low 26% range. That would suggest a similar amount of leverage that you got in first quarter. So just trying to clarify, are you assuming a similar sales trend in 2Q as 1Q when you talk about that labor guide? And second to that, the full year guidance for labor, back when you talked to us last quarter, was low 27% range, but you didn't really update that this quarter for the full year. Where is that target now, in your mind, for full year labor cost?

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [53]

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Yes, when I think about Q2, I would not expect the same comp. Take into account the full year guidance that we gave and take into account that the comps get tougher each quarter. What it does mean, though, is seasonally, our sales are higher in the second quarter. So when you move from Q1 to Q2, you naturally have a higher sales amount and you naturally have a leverage just from moving to seasonally higher sales. It doesn't mean that comp is going to be at the same 9.9% level.

The other thing I would expect that labor for the year is going to be somewhere kind of in between these 2 levels. I mean you got a 26.7 in the first quarter. Fourth quarter, seasonally, is very similar. And the 2 quarters in the middle should be similar, where you're in that kind of the low 26 range. So I think somewhere between the low 26 to the 26.7 we just delivered, I think that's a fair estimation of where labor, about labor should fall. And what we've shown in this quarter, when we have labor at that kind of level. And as long as we don't have -- as long as things like avocados normalize, we can deliver this strong comp in the 20%, 21% range or so.

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Operator [54]

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And the next question comes from Brian Vaccaro with Raymond James.

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Brian Michae Vaccaro, Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - VP [55]

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Just 2 quick ones on delivery, if I could. Would you be willing to ballpark what percent of digital sales is coming from delivery? And also curious, what percent of orders are coming through the company app versus the DoorDash or other third-party platforms? And did that move much since the launch of the loyalty program over the last 5 or 6 weeks?

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [56]

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We're not going to break out the composition of our digital sales. But with, obviously, to be up 100% year-over-year, we're seeing great progress in all aspects of the digital system, whether it's order ahead, delivery, consumers continue to want to have access digitally, and then they want to have access where it's either brought to them or they can get it quickly. So that's working very nicely.

And then adding Rewards, I think I mentioned this before, one of the things that's great about the Rewards program is it's another level of engagement in this digital system. And we have continued to see, when people become engaged in the Rewards program, they become even more engaged in our digital system and you see an uptick in our digital as a percent of sales as well there. So it really requires, though, all these things to be working in unison. We've got to have the pickup shelves, which I'm happy to say we now have that in all our restaurants. The digital make-line, which we're in like 1,300 restaurants there. We'll be finishing that up in 2019. And then the Rewards program is in the early days as well, where we've got 3 million people already engaged, and then we're giving them the access that they want, whether we're testing our Chipotlanes or letting DoorDash or a third party like that deliver to them at their home. So the digital system is a powerful growth driver for the company going forward, and it's consistent with the strategy that I shared with you guys from go. So we're really excited about the early innings of all this stuff.

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Brian Michae Vaccaro, Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - VP [57]

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All right, fair enough. And then shifting to the commodity outlook, Jack, the 33% that you gave for the year, just curious, what's the underlying inflation embedded in that forecast? And just are you assuming that avocados stay where they are sort of currently, after this recent run-up? Or any other puts and takes on what you're seeing on core proteins or other areas that we should be mindful of?

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John R. Hartung, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CFO [58]

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Yes, we're seeing just a little bit of inflation in some of our meats. Most of the commodities that we're looking at look pretty benign. The real story, the only call-out is, significant call-out, is avocados. We're paying a lot more right now, that's why second quarter food costs are going to be about 100 basis points more. We'll update you when we update you for the second quarter. Hopefully, that will ease a little bit as we move into the third quarter. We do expect it to go back to normal, once we move back to, away from California in the fourth quarter. But avocados are a tough thing to predict. Other than avocados, most other things are pretty modest, very low single digit inflation, and so that's why we think we can stay in this 33% range overall for the year.

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Operator [59]

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This concludes our question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the conference back over to Brian Niccol for any closing remarks.

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Brian R. Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. - CEO & Director [60]

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All right, thank you. And thank you, everybody, for taking the time and the questions. I just wanted to remind folks I think the strategies that we outlined over a year ago, we're starting to see the impacts of the execution around that strategy, whether it is making the brand more visible with culturally relevant marketing and menu innovation, or making the restaurant experience more digital with the rollout of our mobile pickup shelves, the digital make line, the delivery partnerships and now the Rewards program, to operational improvements focused on great hospitality, great food, a great environment and then ultimately, terrific throughput. And then, obviously, we're going to continue to work hard to improve this economic model, which is, I think, one of the best in the industry through being smart and being efficient and prudent in how we choose to spend our money. And then the key piece, too, is we want to continue to drive home access for Chipotle, whether that means physical access, so more restaurants, more digital access through the various channels that I talked about earlier, but we want to have Chipotle solve people's needs for how they want to eat in today and in the future.

So very proud of the team and the results that we achieved in Q1, and very excited that we continue down this strategy and continue to execute with excellence going forward.

So thank you for your time and we'll talk to you all soon. Take care.

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Operator [61]

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The conference has now concluded. Thank you for attending today's presentation. You may now disconnect.