U.S. markets closed
  • S&P Futures

    4,280.00
    -6.50 (-0.15%)
     
  • Dow Futures

    33,949.00
    -32.00 (-0.09%)
     
  • Nasdaq Futures

    13,500.25
    -23.00 (-0.17%)
     
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    1,996.20
    -5.50 (-0.27%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    90.64
    +0.14 (+0.15%)
     
  • Gold

    1,769.30
    -1.90 (-0.11%)
     
  • Silver

    19.38
    -0.08 (-0.43%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.0079
    -0.0013 (-0.13%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    2.8800
    -0.0130 (-0.45%)
     
  • Vix

    19.56
    -0.34 (-1.71%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.1909
    -0.0023 (-0.20%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    136.3540
    +0.4920 (+0.36%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    22,939.95
    -477.19 (-2.04%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    544.75
    -12.98 (-2.33%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,541.85
    +26.10 (+0.35%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    29,050.20
    +108.06 (+0.37%)
     
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Here comes a Chipotle to your small town

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Chipotle (CMG) wants to serve you a super-stuffed burrito in your small town, finally.

The fast-casual restaurant chain said Tuesday it sees the potential for 7,000 locations in North America. CEO Brian Niccol told Yahoo Finance in a prior interview the long-term target was for 6,000 spots. The company — which has nearly 3,000 sites in the U.S. today — will open up to 250 locations in 2022.

To reach the new store goal, Chipotle is targeting small-town America.

"We feel really good about it [the small-town opportunity]. I think there is hundreds of these that we can easily find and build," Niccol told analysts on an earnings call.

Chipotle CFO Jack Hartung (who will be on Yahoo Finance Live this morning) added the key is to building the small-town locations somewhat close together so managers could easily visit the sites to build strong teams.

"If you string a bunch of small towns together where there is one that's 50 miles away and another that's 50 miles away — you string these along so that a field leader can over a number of days make sure that he touches those restaurants to develop the leadership in those restaurants, from a financial standpoint and from bringing a special dining experience to these small towns — it's a home run," Hartung explained.

The ratcheting up of new restaurant growth comes after another hot quarter for the burrito hawking giant.

Fourth quarter same-store sales rose 15.2%, beating analyst estimates for 14.8% growth as Chipotle saw a positive customer response to new smoked brisket. Earnings per share clobbered analyst estimates by 30 cents.

Shares of Chipotle popped 6% to $1,548 in pre-market trading.

The stock arguably would be higher in the early going if Chipotle was seeing a touch better trends in the first quarter. Executives told analysts on a conference call same-store sales rose 5% in January, held back by the Omicron variant.

Same-store sales for the first quarter are seen rising by a mid- to high-single digit percentage.

The Street stayed bullish on Chipotle despite the mixed start to sales in 2022.

"We expect continued momentum in the near term driven by ongoing traction in digital (42% of mix) where management continues to see sizeable unlock (on customer acquisition and frequency), the successful launch of 2-3 limited-time offerings/year, and further pricing flexibility," said Jefferies restaurant analyst Andy Barish. "Encouragingly, staffing issues now appear to be better (also above 2019 levels) which removes some uncertainty in the near term."

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit