What: Fast-casual restaurant Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) saw its stock jump 23% higher during the month of July, according to S&P Capital IQ data. The move pushed shares to a new all-time high and put its return at 10% since the start of 2015.
Long-term Chipotle investors are now up 400% over just the past five years.
So what: Wall Street was initially spooked by the burrito chain's second-quarter earnings announcement. But investors quickly shifted into buy mode and sent the stock soaring on the day after Chipotle posted earnings on July 21.
The company revealed that a growing restaurant base pushed revenue up by 14% last quarter with help from a 4% uptick in comparable-store sales. Meanwhile, earnings jumped higher by 27% as profitability improved to 28% of sales. "We feel good about our second quarter results, as our revenue, average restaurant sales, and comparable restaurant sales have continued to grow even comparing to a very strong 2014," co-CEO Steve Ells said in a press release.
While the latest results easily beat rival fast-casual restaurant companies, they're not as strong as shareholders have come to expect: The second quarter's growth rate was the lowest Chipotle has booked in over a year.
Now what: Still, investors have a few reasons to expect solid sales and profit growth this year. Chipotle is on pace to meet the high end of management's annual target for opening new restaurants, with over 200 locations added to the base. The company should end 2015 with 2,000 restaurants, up from 1,400 just two years ago.
And sales growth at existing shops will get a boost from the end of a pork shortage that management believes held comps growth lower by two full percentage points last quarter. The return of carnitas to the national menu should also help profitability edge higher as Chipotle raises prices on its steak products to counter spiking beef costs.
Overall, Wall Street analysts are targeting a 15% sales and profit bounce on the year. But investors will have to pay up for a piece of that market-thumping growth: Shares are valued at nearly 50 times trailing earnings.