In the early days of ProofTrader Chipotle was one of the perpetual coverages. Since we've launched though I haven't gotten a chance to write about it. Before I get into any of the technicals, I'll just share my own personal experience with CMG.
There is one by my house and I eat there quite frequently; depending on the time of day/week there may be an incredible line, mostly college kids (Loyola and Towson are each within 5 miles) but no one seems to mind. The food is always high quality, the service is always good, and the line always moves along.
Now I'll just hone in on one technical point from their recent earnings release.
Conference call transcript http://seekingalpha.com/article/168384-chipotle-mexican-grill-inc-q3-2009-qtr-end-9-30-09-earnings-call-transcript
Or just the facts http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS226593+22-Oct-2009+BW20091022
The restaurant-level operating margin for this quarter increased from 21.4% to 25.5%. They are getting more and more efficient. They recently pushed through price increases and their customers don't seem to mind at all.
In terms of marketing they don't do a lot of flashy stuff. From the call: "we believe building more awareness about our efforts to source great ingredients and cook the food we serve in our restaurant will strengthen that bond that we have with existing customers while helping to reach new customers as well."
They focus on what they do well, which is produce food with great taste. Compare that to Taco Bell, which mainly drives sales through coming up with new crazy product lines (a black taco? Who wants to eat a black taco?) and pumping them in TV ads.
They own all the franchises and they believe in controlled growth. In my area my feeling is there should be more Chipotle locations. But they seem to be like that savvy night club that keeps demand high by always keeping some line at the door. People see the line and they assume it's a happening club.
As of this writing the stock is down a good bit following the earnings release. But I have no idea why. The EPS growth from Q3 of last year was 83%, and all this in a down economy. I don't want to oversell. Basically, they put asses in the seats. Once the economy turns back up, their numbers will look even more impressive.