Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) is a speed demon in the restaurant space, but the burrito roller with the cult-like following is starting to feel pretty mortal these days.
The stock is trading 29% off of last month month's all-time high -- yes, 29% -- and the obvious culprit is the E. coli outbreak in the northwest that has now expanded into isolated incidents in new states. The brand is getting smeared like guac on a barbacoa bowl, but the grim truth is that the chain's popularity was also starting to take a hit long before gastrointestinal illnesses came into play.
Same-restaurant sales clocked in with five straight quarters of year-over-year growth in the double digits, before falling to 4.3% during this year's second quarter. Comps continue to decelerate, slowing to 2.6% in its latest quarter.
I looked at several chains that were posting stronger store-level growth than after the second quarter. Let's examine the chains that are still posting better comps after the bar was lowered at Chipotle this past quarter.
Shake Shack (NYSE:SHAK) -- up 17.1%
When it comes to heavy-duty comps, it's hard to ignore Shake Shack. The new star of gourmet burgers clocked in with a jaw-dropping 17.1% spike in comparable-restaurant sales for the third quarter. A pair of price increases over the past year (in September of last year and again this January) helped fuel half of the gain, but store traffic is still up by a robust 8%.
Shake Shack expects the double-digit bliss to prove fleeting. It sees comps closer to 3% for 2016. However, for now it's clearly the chain that's putting the pedal to the metal. The stock may have retreated sharply since peaking at $96.75 in May, but it has still managed to more than double since going public at $21 in January.
Domino's Pizza (NYSE:DPZ) -- up 10.5%
Pizza giants aren't as sexy to investors as Chipotle or Shake Shack, but there is plenty of improvement taking place at Domino's. The pizza delivery chain's 10.5% gain in comps for its domestic outlets follows a 7.7% surge a year earlier, and its performance overseas is perhaps even more impressive. Domino's saw its international division register same-store sales growth of 7.7%, bringing its streak of positive comps to a whopping 87 consecutive quarters.
Pizza itself isn't beating burritos. Domino's rivals aren't growing as quickly as the chain of more than 12,000 pizzerias worldwide. However, Domino's store-level popularity is growing at a headier clip than Chipotle.
Del Taco (NASDAQ:TACO) -- up 5.6%
Some burrito builders are also growing faster than Chipotle. Del Taco's comps for the third quarter were 5.6%, more than double the year-over-year pace at Chipotle. That's stacked on top of a similar 5.6% uptick during the prior year's third quarter, pushing the two-year growth north of 11%. In other words, it's not as if the 550-unit chain that bills itself as the second largest quick-service Mexican-American chain after Taco Bell was coming off of a period of sandbagging.
Del Taco went public this summer in a rather unconventional way. It merged with a blank-check shell that was looking for an acquisition. This is often a desperate route over the traditional IPO, but all that matters now is that Del Taco has easier access to tap capital markets to accelerate its expansion.
So, sure, Chipotle's growing fast. It may also be worth your time to check out some of the chains that are growing their comps even faster.
Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill. 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.