Burrito chain Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) has been riding high for the past year, seeing its shares rise in value 52% during 2020, and some analysts expect it to continue its growth trajectory into 2021. In keeping with these expectations, Chipotle announced Monday it is seeking to hire 15,000 more employees, boosting its workforce from 94,000 to approximately 109,000, a nearly 16% increase, Reuters reports.

Chipotle now operates roughly 2,700 outlets and continues to open more. In its press release about the job search, the company said it wants to hire all 15,000 this Thursday if possible, as part of its Jan. 14 "Coast to Coast Career Day." Chipotle also says 200 new restaurant openings are "on the horizon." With pickup at its drive-thru "Chipotlanes" as well as delivery, the enterprise has joined other fast casual chains in profiting from pandemic lockdowns and in-restaurant dining restrictions after an initial adjustment period.

A Chipotle Mexican Grill exterior on Sunset Boulevard in California.

Image source: Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Yesterday, Wedbush also weighed in with a positive research note on Chipotle, Business Insider reports. The analysts established a $1,600 one-year price target for the restaurant chain, a nearly 15% upside from this morning's share prices. The Wedbush team noted customers haven't reduced their ordering even after Chipotle hiked delivery prices by 2% to 3%, and cited "higher marketing spend, and market share opportunities" as other factors supporting their bull case.

The analysts also singled out Chipotle's "traction in digital/delivery" and "continued menu innovation" as drivers of additional growth. Lifestyle bowls, cauliflower rice, and quesadillas were described as key menu items, with the analysts characterizing the cauliflower rice as a "hit." Dressed up with cilantro-lime flavor, the cauliflower dish is a low-calorie, antioxidant-rich fast food appealing to people looking for healthier options

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