Analysts Raise Outlooks on Chipotle Stock as Niccol Shakes Up Menu

Near-term options traders have preferred puts on Chipotle

by Josh Selway

Published on Jun 22, 2018 at 9:16 AM

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) is set to extend its recent uptrend that was launched by the company's blowout earnings report from late April. CMG shares are 1.7% higher in electronic trading, amid news the company is testing new menu options, such as milkshakes and quesadillas, as CEO Brian Niccol continues his turnaround efforts for the fast-casual chain. Meanwhile, analysts also upping their outlooks on CMG stock.

For example, Wedbush this morning boosted its price target by $100 to $450. This follows a similar price-target hike yesterday from Telsey Advisory Group, which raised to $465 from $350. There's plenty of potential for this trend to continue, too, since just six of 27 covering analysts recommend buying the stock at the moment. Plus, the average 12-month price target from this group sits all the way down at $394.21.

Of course, short interest is also very elevated on the equity, representing 13.5% of the float -- even after a 10.9% decline in the most recent reporting period. Chipotle's short-interest ratio still rests at 5.10, meaning that, going by average daily volumes, it'd still take bears a week to buy back their shares, hinting at plenty of buying power still on the sideline.

And even with peak open interest resting at the weekly 6/22 480-strike call -- which expires today -- near-term options traders are unusually put-skewed toward CMG. This is according to its Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.58, which stands in the 100th percentile of its annual range.

Finally, a quick look at the charts shows shares of the burrito chain barreling toward the $480-$500 region that capped their upside advance roughly a year ago. But momentum is definitely on Chipotle's side, with the stock already up more than 60% year-to-date, closing Thursday at $463.16, on pace for a fourth straight weekly win.

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