Stock Indexes

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Stocks used a late afternoon pop to end the trading day at session highs on Tuesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) hit another record and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) index gained over 0.25%.

Today's stock market:

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

0.18%

35.54

S&P 500

0.34%

7.52

Data source: Yahoo Finance.

A slight drop in gold prices sent the highly leveraged Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NYSEMKT:NUGT) down 2%, and the Financial Sector ETF (NYSEMKT:XLF) again outperformed the market with a nearly 1% gain on the day.

As for individual stocks, both Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) and AutoZone (NYSE:AZO)stood out in Tuesday's session due to market-moving news releases by the two companies.

Chipotle's sour investor presentation

Chipotle was the S&P 500's worst daily performer following a downbeat investor presentation by the restaurant chain's management. Shares fell almost 8% after co-CEO Steve Ells revealed that the company is struggling with poor customer service in the wake of a bacteria outbreak last year.

Cmg Food

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Food-safety changes have become so involved that they pulled employees away from basic activities such as cleaning windows and wiping down tables, or speeding customers through the check-out line, according to The Wall Street Journal. And that's hurting both employee turnover and customer satisfaction.

In fact, half of the chain's restaurants now carry a "C" rating or below in Chipotle's internal customer-service tracking scores. "When we invite customers into restaurants that are less than perfect, they will not return as frequently," the WSJ quoted Ells as saying. As a result, the company might not achieve its growth rebound as quickly as it had hoped.

Management "isn't satisfied with the pace of Chipotle's sales recovery," the WSJ reported. Compounding the problem is the fact that executives can't simply boost employee wages while sales are diving at a 20% pace, so turnover could continue to hurt customer satisfaction levels into next year. Chipotle knows how a high-performing location should look, but it now needs to return to those standards despite the challenges of extra food safety processes and elevated employee turnover.

Autozone's steady sales growth

AutoZone shares ticked up by 1% to close near all-time highs after the automotive parts retailer announced solid third-quarter earnings results. Comparable-store sales improved by 1.6% for a slight acceleration over the prior quarter's 1% pace (yet the metric trailed rival O'Reilly's 4% comps spike). Net income jumped by 8% as gross profit margin expanded slightly and the company held the line on expenses.

Auto Parts Shopping

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Meanwhile, a decreasing share count helped generate a 13% pop in per-share earnings that marked AutoZone's 41st consecutive quarter of double-digit profit growth. That impressive track record helps explain why the stock is up nearly 600% over the last decade while the S&P 500 has gained 60%. "We reached record first quarter sales and earnings per share while opening 21 new locations," CEO Bill Rhodes said in a press release.

Looking ahead, Rhodes and his executive team hope to speed up sales growth by improving the availability of products across its network of nearly 6,000 stores. To that end, they are building two new distribution centers in the U.S. and are scheduling significantly more parts deliveries to the busiest locations. "We believe these initiatives will allow us to continue to meet our customers' needs across all selling channels," Rhodes explained.

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Motley Fool owns shares of O'Reilly Automotive. The Motley Fool recommends AutoZone. 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.