Chipotle (CMG) Execs Plan Price Increases in Mid-2013; See Food Inflation Leveling

January 17, 2013 12:09 PM EST
Chipotle (NYSE: CMG) is up on the session Thursday as the company wraps up its presentation at the 2013 ICR XChange Conference in Miami, Florida this morning.

On Tuesday, Chipotle issued preliminary fourth-quarter numbers, seeing EPS of $1.92 to $1.97 and revs of $699.2 million, with comps up 3.8 percent. The Street was at EPS of $2.09 and revs of $690.86 million.

At the event this morning were founder, Chairman and co-CEO, Steve Ells, co-CEO Monty Moran, and CFO Jack Hartung.

Overall, executives said Chipotle would raise menu prices in the middle of 2013 and expect that food inflation "leveling off" in the third-quarter of 2013.

Dairy and meat were drivers of fourth-quarter 2012 food inflation, leading to margin contraction.

Chipotle is also testing vegetarian food items, specifically something it is calling Sofritas. Sofritas is shredded tofu, braised in roaster tomatoes and chipotle poblano peppers. Testing will begin in San Francisco next month.

Emphasis in 2013 will also be on driving traffic, with new ad programs focused on mini markets with radio, outdoor, and print. The new campaign will start in March.

Shares of Chipotle are up two percent today.

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