© Reuters. A signage is seen in a Chipotle outlet in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
(Reuters) -Chipotle Mexican Grill topped market estimates for quarterly sales on Tuesday, as Americans ordered more of its burritos and rice bowls despite menu items getting pricier, underscoring its resilience in a choppy macro environment.
Shares of the California-based company were up about 3% in extended trading.
While the U.S. restaurant industry has seen customer traffic weaken in the past few months, Chipotle (NYSE:) bucked the trend thanks in part to its higher-income customer base that was relatively less impacted by persistent inflation.
Data from Placer.ai showed traffic at Chipotle’s U.S. locations climbed 2.6% in October and strengthened further to end the quarter with a 5.5% jump in December alone, while the overall fast-food industry saw visits drop 1.6% on average.
Chipotle noted customer transactions in the quarter ended Dec. 31 were 7.4% higher from a year earlier, while average amount spent per order rose 1%.
The company saw sales growth across all income levels, CEO Brian Niccol said on a post-earnings call, adding that productivity at restaurants during peak period has also improved due to a ramp-up in employee training that it put in place in the prior quarter.
While Chipotle saw higher costs for some ingredients such as beef and queso, costs of other commodities like paper and some vegetables have moderated in recent months, aiding margins.
It reported adjusted profit of $10.36 per share in the quarter, handily beating LSEG estimates of $9.75 per share.
Quarterly comparable sales at the restaurant chain rose 8.4%, topping analysts’ expectations of a 6.96% increase.
The company said it expects comparable restaurant sales growth in the mid-single digit range for 2024, compared with analysts’ average estimate for a 5.34% increase.
It also plans to open 285 to 315 new restaurants this year.