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Chipotle CFO: We are closing in on $1 billion in digital sales

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large
A bowl of food from Chipotle in Miami. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A lot of those Chipotle (CMG) burritos are now being ordered digitally.

The burrito joint (and soon quesadillas and salads) turned in another mouth-watering quarter on Tuesday afternoon, with same-store sales surging 11%. Wall Street expected same-store sales growth of 9.3%.

Chipotle’s same-store sales were boosted by a nearly 7.5% jump in comparable restaurant transactions. The company notched a 3.5% increase in the average check, which partially benefited from menu price increases implemented in 2018. Digital sales surged 87.9%.

Chipotle Chief Financial Officer Jack Hartung tells Yahoo Finance the company is closing in on $1 billion in annual sales digitally. Hartung didn’t rule out digital sales comprising more than 45% of its annual business over time, which would put it on par with the kings of fast food on digital — the pizza players.

The company’s digital business made up 18.3% of its third quarter sales.

For a fast-food seller that was way late to the digital ordering game, the sales growth rates have been stellar under former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol and veteran Chipotle executive Hartung. The duo has moved quickly to enhance the Chipotle app to make mobile ordering easier. It has added an extra prep station in the restaurant to handle online orders, as well as designated pickup spots for consumers.

And hey, at the end of the day Chipotle serves up Mexican food that simply travels well, similar to pizza.

And on the Chipotle earnings front

Digital sales growth — which Hartung says is Chipotle’s most profitable business — helped to power another strong quarter of profits. Earnings came in $3.82 a share versus forecasts for $3.21 a share.

For a bit of perspective on Chipotle’s momentum, McDonald’s said today its third quarter U.S. same-store sales rose 4.8%. Wendy’s is a few days removed from telling investors its North America same-store sales rose 4.4% in the quarter. Domino’s Pizza saw its same-store sales in the quarter rise a mere 2.4%.

Chipotle expects 2019 same-store sales growth at the top end of its high single-digit guidance. The company also anticipates meeting or expanding slightly below its prior guidance of 140 to 155 new restaurant openings in 2020, while 150 to 165 new restaurant openings are planned in 2019.

Yahoo Finance’s Heidi Chung contributed to this story.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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