The Undeniable Power of Guacamole

Headlines of a potential avocado shortage that could take guacamole off Chipotle's menu are old news. Here's what investors need to know.

Mar 6, 2014 at 12:05PM

There has been a rather amazing amount of news in the past 24 hours regarding Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) and a potential avocado shortage that could possibly take their awesome guacamole off the menu for a period of time. Like Kermit the Frog said, "It's not easy being green."

No guac for you!
It's funny to me how things like sustainable farming and global warming have been rather mundane topics of discussion for years now. But when you start talking about the threat of no more Chipotle guacamole, that's when stuff gets real. Hey, I get it. I love the stuff as much as the next Fool.

The thing is, though, while I guess it makes a good headline, this is nothing really new. We have always known that Chipotle's supply chain at this stage of its life faces greater risk of being constrained because management has proven time and time again that it isn't going to cut corners on the quality of ingredients. As a shareholder and a Chipotle loyalist, I'm down with that.

History repeats itself
In the short run, sure, consumers should at least be concerned to the extent that they want their guacamole. But we've seen this kind of thing play out before with tomatoes, for example. Tomato shortages in the past have forced everything from sandwich shops to Italian restaurants to cut back on or completely eliminate tomatoes from their menus. Loyalists tend to be more understanding when things like this happen because we know it's temporary.

Indulge me for just a moment. Let us journey back in time to Chipotle's 2010 10-K and take a look at a few passages: 

As a result of ongoing supply challenges, we had to suspend serving naturally raised chicken in certain markets beginning in the second quarter of 2010. We expect additional supplies of naturally raised chicken to become available during 2011.

We do, however, face challenges associated with pursuing Food With Integrity. For example, current economic conditions have led to natural chicken and steak supply shortages... We also understand that we'll continue to be at the forefront of this trend and must balance our interest in advancing Food With Integrity with our desire to provide great food at reasonable prices. If we are able to continue growing while focusing on Food With Integrity our sourcing flexibility should improve over time, though we expect that most of these ingredients and other raw materials will remain more expensive than commodity-priced equivalents.

Alternatively, in the event of cost increases with respect to one or more of our raw ingredients, we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients. Any such changes to our available menu may negatively impact our restaurant traffic and comparable restaurant sales. [emphasis added]

Investing is all about the future
Like I said, this is nothing new. Supply chain concerns are part of the package with Chipotle. It's what you deal with when you put ingredients before profits. Furthermore, given that the business generates gobs and gobs of free cash flow and has more than $500 million in cash and equivalents on the balance sheet with no debt, I expect management to invest more in its supply chain as time goes on in order to mitigate issues like this in the future. 

So, investors and Chipotle fanatics, don't let the guacamole shortage headlines get your burritos in a bunch. If anything, take solace in knowing that your company stands for something and is working hard on your behalf to serve up delicious "Food With Integrity" with a bigger goal in mind. And if it takes the threat of a steak burrito sans guacamole in the short term to keep things like sustainable farming and global warming at the forefront of our minds, well, I'll survive.

Get in on the forefront of a revolution
Let’s face it: Every investor wants to get in on revolutionary ideas before they hit it big. Like buying PC maker Dell in the late 1980s, before the consumer computing boom. Or purchasing stock in e-commerce pioneer Amazon.com in late 1990s, when it was nothing more than an upstart online bookstore. The problem is, most investors don't understand the key to investing in hyper-growth markets. The real trick is to find a small-cap "pure play" and then watch as it grows in EXPLOSIVE lockstep with its industry. Our expert team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's poised to produce rocket-ship returns with the next $14.4 TRILLION industry. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening report for free.

 

Jason Moser owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers