Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) (NYSE:CMG-B) served up a spicier-than-expected first-quarter earnings report today, but is the stock simply priced too high right now?

First-quarter net income rose 46.9% to $25.4 million, or $0.78 per share. Chipotle's earnings beat analysts' expectations of $0.55 per share by a long shot. Impressively, Chipotle was able to lift restaurant-level operating margin by 230 basis points, to 23.5%.

Revenue increased 16.1% to $354.5 million, with the help of a 2.2% gain in same-store sales. Notably, these comps were boosted by price hikes implemented in the fourth quarter, which offset an actual decline in customer visits, so it's not all good news. Shareholders and potential investors should hope restaurants can actually bring more customers back through the doors, which has been a challenge lately. (Panera (NASDAQ:PNRA) is another company that has recently owed more to higher menu prices than increased customer traffic.)

Chipotle, which was once owned by McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and has been recommended by both Motley Fool Rule Breakers and Motley Fool Hidden Gems, is a company I've liked for a long time. Its food is high quality, and its mission is a bit similar to those of companies such as Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFMI), since it includes using natural, sustainably grown ingredients and treating employees well; these are all elements I love to see.

However, with the ugly economic downturn, I've been a bit more leery about owning the stock lately. It's trading at a nosebleed 32 times trailing earnings (but the Class B stock is exchanged at a more palatable 27 times), and that's a very high multiple when you consider that its earnings growth has seriously slowed from years past. Even with today's better-than-expected earnings, for the past 12 months, its earnings per share have grown only about 15% period over period. Then consider the fact that you could buy a great performer like McDonald's for a far cheaper multiple.

Of course, as investors, we're all looking forward when we consider which stocks to buy. Chipotle is a solid company, so I don't blame any long-term investors for the idea that it will do far better than any of us might think. Still, the stock would be a lot more appetizing at a cheaper price, especially given the economic headwinds, and I'd like to see its growth bolstered more by increasing customer visits than by price increases.

Chipotle's a great stock for the watch list, though.

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Chipotle Mexican Grill is a Rule Breakers recommendation. Chipotle Mexican Grill (Class B) is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems selection. The Fool owns Class B shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Whole Foods, but holds no financial position in any other companies mentioned. The Fool has a disclosure policy.