It's About Time Chipotle Mexican Grill Raised Prices

Let me get one thing out of the way: I'm a Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG  ) fan. I love the food, and I love the stock. OK, I know I'm not supposed to ever love a stock, but I've owned shares for a while now, and I just don't see getting rid of them anytime soon, especially after this most recent quarter.

For its most recent quarter, Chipotle turned in what many would consider a mixed bag of results. The company beat expectations on sales with $904.2 million, up more than 24% from the same quarter last year; however, earnings came in a little light as costs took a toll. But let's face it, management's priority is the quality of the food, and founder and co-CEO Steve Ells just won't skimp where this is concerned.

If you take one thing away from Chipotle's most recent quarter, it's that price increases are coming. There are two schools of thought here as to how this will play out. One is that price increases will chase away customers as they seek alternatives. The other is that Chipotle has earned a loyal customer base that will continue to pay up for the quality they know and love, and that price increases won't chase away customers. Count me in the latter.

Management has done a great job through the years of not raising prices in order to grow a loyal customer base, and now they've got us hooked so that an incremental price increase will seem like nothing to us when we're craving that steak burrito with guacamole. But those price increases will help the company continue bringing quality ingredients (GMO-free, incidentally) and a quality offering while keeping costs under control, and investors have to love that.

Could I be wrong? Absolutely. But I don't think I am. Chipotle is going to continue dishing out great food while growing its footprint with more Chipotles, more ShopHouses, and (fingers crossed) more Pizzeria Locales. Chipotle just turned 20 years old, and as an investor, I have a feeling the next 20 years are going to be even better.

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