When you're the leader of the pack, everyone is gunning for you. Unless the leader is Usain Bolt -- then people are gunning for whoever's No. 2, because there is no way they're catching Bolt. But Chipotle
The mighty, fallen
Chipotle announced its second-quarter earnings last week, and as of today the stock is down about 26%. A fall like that usually comes after some horrible news, but for Chipotle that wasn't the case. Revenue was up 21% on last year, same-store sales grew 8%, and net income was up 61%. So why the drop?
In the world of growth stocks, expectations are everything. The analysts on the Street were expecting revenue to increase to $706 million, but Chipotle turned in just $691 million. While the company did beat earnings-per-share expectations, the shortfall in revenue and single-digit same-store-sales growth made investors nervous about future growth. Even though the company is still running quickly down the track, it's no longer running as fast as the bookies predicted.
A challenger appears
On the other end of the spectrum, Panera Bread
Panera has done well to carve out a niche for itself recently, fighting off the stigma that it's just a big Starbucks
The value of diversification
Chipotle has recognized the need to expand its horizons as well. The company's Shop House concept was designed to expand the range of offerings available, adding Southeast Asian cuisine to the company's toolbag. Unfortunately for investors, the concept has yet to expand beyond one D.C. location. CEO Steve Ells has announced the opening of a second restaurant later this year, but there have been no details on how the concept is going to really take off.
Chipotle's early provider, McDonald's
The bottom line
Chipotle has yet to make the leap from excellent, single-minded restaurant to excellent diverse chain. While the growth figures continue to be strong, they're not strong enough to justify the company's rich valuation. While stalwart McDonald's trades at a forward P/E of only 15, Chipotle is still sitting at 27. Even with the recent pullback, there's still a lot of anticipation in this stock.
I'd rather climb in with Starbucks. The company has made some excellent moves this year, including the bakery purchase. The second half of the year promises all sorts of new fun, as the company is introducing its own line of brew-at-home machines to compete with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. I think the combination of in-store diversification and the move into more homes is going to lead to continued strong growth for the coffee giant.
Chipotle's future is just too hazy for me to get behind. I see the end goal but don't understand how the brand moves from here to there. Panera, Starbucks, and McDonald's all have understandable futures, and I like the looks of them all. In fact, McDonald's plan is so good that the company has made the Fool's list of 3 American Companies Set to Dominate the World. You can find out all about the other two companies in this special free report. It details why we think global growth is in the cards for these three, and why investors should get in now. Get your free copy today.