Chipotle restaurant sales pick up pace, shares jump

July 18 Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:21pm EDT

July 18 (Reuters) - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc on Thursday reported higher quarterly profit after an increase in customer visits helped sales at established restaurants rise more than analysts expected.

The results sent Chipotle shares up 5.6 percent to $398 in after-hours trading.

Second-quarter net income at the burrito chain rose to $87.9 million, or $2.82 per share, from $81.7 million, or $2.56 per share, a year earlier.

Income taxes reduced earnings by 3 cents per share in the latest period.

Sales at restaurants open at least 13 months, a closely watched gauge of industry performance, were up 5.5 percent - topping the average analyst estimate of 3.8 percent compiled by Consensus Metrix. Chipotle's same-restaurant sales were up 1 percent in the first quarter.

Analysts say Chipotle needs mid-single-digit percentage growth in same-restaurant sales to protect profits.

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