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Chipotle (CMG) to Raise Employee Wages and Add 20K Jobs

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. CMG recently announced plans to increase its average hourly wage to $15 and hire 20,000 employees across the United States by the end of June 2021. This move highlights the company’s endeavor to reopen dine-in services as the pandemic-related restrictions ease.

With growing demand during its peak season and nearly 200 new restaurant locations in the offing, Chipotle is looking to recruit 20,000 members and provide internal growth opportunities to employees.

Notably, Chipotle is implementing an employee referral bonus of $200 for its crew members and a $750 referral bonus for apprentices or general managers. Also, the company is opening a scope for its crew members to advance their position up to the post of general manager, within a minimum time frame of three and a half years, with average remuneration of $100,000.

Marissa Andrada, Chief Diversity, Inclusion and People Officer, stated, “Chipotle is committed to providing industry-leading benefits and accelerated growth opportunities, and we hope to attract even more talent by showcasing the potential income that can be achieved in a few short years.”

Not only Chipotle, restaurant chains like Taco Bell and McDonald's have been implementing benefits or hiring people. Increasing relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, thanks to the rapid vaccination drive in the country and the $1,400 stimulus checks that people received have been aiding the U.S. restauranters to pass on the benefits to their respective employees.

Robust Comps & Price Performance

Chipotle is one of the most recognized fast-casual Mexican restaurant chains in the United States. Impressive comps performance is driving the company’s growth continuously. Despite the pandemic, the company reported comps growth for the third straight quarter. Comps in the first quarter of 2021 increased 17.2%, following 5.7% growth in the fourth quarter of 2020. Notably, reopening of dining rooms, introduction of new menu items, effective marketing strategies and strong digital sales contributed to the company’s results. The company anticipates comps in the range of the high 20% to 30% for the second quarter of 2021.

Shares of the company have gained 49.7% over the past year compared with the Zacks Retail - Restaurants industry’s 42.8% growth. The upside is primarily driven by the company’s focus on food safety and enhancing customer experience along with various sales-building and strategic initiatives. Notably, digitalization played a crucial role in sustaining growth for restaurant operators amid the coronavirus crisis. Initiatives like redesigned online ordering site, online payment for catering, meal customizations as well as collaborations with third-party providers for delivery bode well.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Chipotle currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some top-ranked stocks in the same industry include Bloomin' Brands, Inc. BLMN, BJ's Restaurants, Inc. BJRI and Chuy's Holdings, Inc. CHUY. Bloomin' Brands carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while Chuy's Holdings and BJ's Restaurants have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Bloomin' Brands, BJ's Restaurants and Chuy's Holdings’ earnings for 2021 are expected to rise 372.5%, 110.6%, and 34.5% respectively.

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