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Chipotle shares dipped 2.5 per cent in after-hours trading on Thursday after it unveiled slightly softer-than-expected revenue from the past quarter, even as it reaffirmed its commitment to growing same-store sales in the new year.

The company – which has been clawing its way back after a food-safety scare – said that revenue for the three-month period ending December 31 was $1bn, a hair shy of the $1.03bn that analysts had predicted, according to Bloomberg. Earnings per share were 55 cents, a penny short of the 56 cents a share targeted by Wall Street.

The company attributed the modest revenue growth to the 72 new restaurants it had opened during the quarter. As it had previously announced, same-store sales for the full quarter had declined 4.8 per cent – although they had improved during that time from a 20.2 per cent decrease in October to a positive 14.7 per cent in December.

Profits, however, slightly edged out expectations of $15.75m, coming in at $16m for the quarter but a steep decline from the year-ago period, when it clocked income of $67.9m. The company said that its food costs had crept up 150 basis points compared with the same quarter in 2015, with pricier avocados and more costly diced tomatoes partly offset by cheaper beef.

Chipotle reaffirmed its outlook of single-digit comparable-store sales growth in 2017. Chief executive and founder Steve Ells said:

“In the upcoming year we intend to continue to simplify and improve our restaurant operations, utilize creative marketing to rebuild our brand, and further the roll-out of our digital sales efforts. All three of these strategic initiatives are centered on improving the guest experience and restoring customer affinity for the Chipotle brand, and we are confident in our teams’ abilities as we start this new year.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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