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Table of Contents

 

 

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

______________________

FORM 10-K

______________________

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021

or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                    to

Commission File Number: 1-32731

______________________

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

______________________

Delaware

84-1219301

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

(IRS Employer

Identification No.)

610 Newport Center Drive, Suite 1400 Newport Beach, CA

92660

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

(Zip Code)

Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (949524-4000

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common stock, par value $0.01 per share

CMG

New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

______________________

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.     Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.     Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.     Yes      No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).     Yes      No  .

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act (check one):

 Large accelerated filer

 Accelerated filer

 Non-accelerated filer

 Smaller reporting company

 Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ¨

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).     Yes     No  

As of June 30, 2021, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s outstanding common equity held by non-affiliates was $35.159 billion, based on the closing price of the registrant’s common stock on June 30, 2021, the last trading day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter. For purposes of this calculation, shares of common stock held by each executive officer and director and by holders of 5% or more of the outstanding common stock have been excluded since those persons may under certain circumstances be deemed to be affiliates. This determination of affiliate status is not necessarily a conclusive determination for other purposes.

As of February 4, 2022, there were 28,031,948 shares of the registrant’s common stock, par value of $0.01 per share outstanding.

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Part III incorporates certain information by reference from the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for the 2022 annual meeting of shareholders, which will be filed no later than 120 days after the close of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2021.

 



Table of Contents

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I

Item 1.

Business

3

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

8

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

18

Item 2.

Properties

18

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

18

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

18

PART II

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

19

Item 6.

Reserved

21

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

21

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure About Market Risk

29

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

30

Report of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm (PCAOB ID: 42)

30

Consolidated Balance Sheets as of December 31, 2021 and 2020

32

Consolidated Statements of Income and Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019

33

Consolidated Statements of Shareholders’ Equity for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019

34

Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows for the years ended December 31, 2021, 2020 and 2019

35

Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

36

Note 1 – Description of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

36

Note 2 – Supplemental Balance Sheet Information

42

Note 3 – Revenue Recognition

43

Note 4 – Fair Value of Financial Instruments

43

Note 5 – Corporate Restructuring Costs

45

Note 6 – Income Taxes

45

Note 7 – Shareholders’ Equity

47

Note 8 – Stock-Based Compensation

48

Note 9 – Employee Benefit Plans

50

Note 10 – Leases

51

Note 11 – Earnings Per Share

53

Note 12 – Commitments and Contingencies

53

Note 13 – Debt

54

Note 14 – Related Party Transactions

54

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

54

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

54

Item 9B.

Other Information

57

PART III

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

57

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

57

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

57

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

57

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

57

PART IV

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

58

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

60

Signatures

61

 

 


Table of Contents

 

PART I

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This report includes “forward-looking” statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including projected cash from operations, expected capital expenditures for 2022 and all other statements that are not historical facts. We use words such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “think,” “estimate,” “seek,” “expect,” “predict,” “could,” “project,” “potential” and other similar terms and phrases, including references to assumptions, to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on currently available operating, financial and competitive information and are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Our actual future results and trends may differ materially depending on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the risks and uncertainties described in this report under the heading “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” so you should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the statements, including: the potential future impact of COVID-19 on our results of operations, including supply chain disruptions and difficulties in acquiring restaurant equipment; risks of food safety and food-borne illnesses and other health concerns about our food; risks associated with our reliance on certain information technology systems and potential failures or interruptions; privacy and cyber security risks related to our acceptance of electronic payments or electronic processing of confidential customer or employee information; the impact of competition, including from sources outside the restaurant industry; the increasingly competitive labor market and our ability to attract and retain qualified employees, which has resulted in staffing shortages; the impact of federal, state and local government regulations relating to our employees, including new predictive scheduling and just cause legislation; restaurant design and construction, and the sale of food or alcoholic beverages; our ability to achieve our planned growth, such as the availability of suitable new restaurant sites; and increases in ingredient and other operating costs due to our Food With Integrity philosophy, tariffs or trade restrictions and supply shortages. We are including this Cautionary Note to make applicable and take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 for forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements after the date of this report as a result of new information, future events or other developments, except as required by applicable laws and regulations.

ITEM 1.  BUSINESS

General

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., a Delaware corporation, together with its subsidiaries (“Chipotle,” “we,” “us,” or “our”) owns and operates Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants, which feature a relevant menu of burritos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla), quesadillas, tacos, and salads. We strive to cultivate a better world by serving responsibly sourced, classically cooked, real food with wholesome ingredients and without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. We are passionate about providing a great guest experience and making our food more accessible to everyone while continuing to be a brand with a demonstrated purpose. Our first Chipotle restaurant opened in Denver, Colorado in 1993. Over 25 years later, our devotion to seeking out high-quality ingredients, raised with respect for animals, farmers, and the environment, remains at the core of our commitment to Food With Integrity.

As of December 31, 2021, we owned and operated 2,918 Chipotle restaurants throughout the United States, 44 international Chipotle restaurants, and four non-Chipotle restaurants. We manage our operations based on eight regions and have aggregated our operations to one reportable segment. Our revenue is derived from sales by company-owned restaurants.

Business Strategy

We are a brand with a demonstrated purpose of cultivating a better world. Our mission is to win today while creating a bright future by focusing on five key fundamental strategies:

Running successful restaurants with a people accountable culture that provides great food with integrity while delivering exceptional in-restaurant and digital experiences;

Sustaining world class people leadership by developing and retaining diverse talent at every level;

Making the brand visible, relevant, and loved to improve overall guest engagement;

Amplifying technology and innovation to drive digital growth and productivity at our restaurants and support centers;

And expanding access and convenience by accelerating new restaurant openings.

 

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Food with Integrity

Serving high quality food while still charging reasonable prices is critical to ensuring guests enjoy wholesome food at a great value. In our Chipotle restaurants, we endeavor to serve only meats that are raised in accordance with criteria we have established in an effort to improve sustainability and promote animal welfare, and without the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics or added growth hormones. We brand these meats as “Responsibly Raised®.” We also seek to use responsibly grown produce, by which we mean produce grown by suppliers whose practices conform to our Food With Integrity standards and our priorities with respect to environmental considerations and employee welfare. For more information about our sustainability and animal welfare initiatives see our biennial Sustainability Report and interim Update Report on our website www.chipotle.com/about-us/sustainability.

Purchasing

Maintaining the high levels of quality and safety we demand in our restaurants depends in part on our ability to acquire high-quality, fresh ingredients and other necessary supplies that meet our specifications from reliable suppliers. Our 25 independently owned and operated regional distribution centers purchase from various suppliers we carefully select based on quality, price, availability, and the suppliers’ understanding of and adherence to our mission. We’ve also sought to increase, where practical, the number of suppliers for our ingredients to help mitigate pricing volatility and reduce our reliance on one or several suppliers, which could create supply shortages. In addition, we closely monitor industry news, trade tariffs, weather, exchange rates, foreign demand, crises and other world events that may affect our ingredient prices. Certain key ingredients (certain cuts of beef, tomatoes, tortillas and adobo) are purchased from a small number of suppliers.

Quality Assurance and Food Safety

We are committed to serving only safe, high quality food. Our food safety and quality assurance teams work to ensure compliance with our food safety programs and practices, components of which include:

natural inhibitors (to prevent microbial growth in ingredients);

advanced technologies (tools that reduce or eliminate pathogens while maintaining food quality);

small grower support and training;

enhanced restaurant procedures (protocols for handling ingredients and sanitizing surfaces in our restaurants);

food safety certifications;

internal and third-party restaurant inspections;

supplier interventions (steps to mitigate food safety risks before ingredients reach Chipotle); and

ingredient traceability.

These and other food safety practices underscore our commitment to be a leader in food safety while continuing to serve high quality food that our guests love. Our food safety and quality assurance teams establish and monitor our quality and food safety programs and work closely with suppliers to ensure our high standards are met throughout the supply chain. We maintain a limited list of approved suppliers, many of whom are among the top suppliers in the industry. In addition, we have a team approach where our training, operations, culinary, legal and restaurant food safety and quality assurance departments develop and implement operating standards for food quality, food preparation, restaurant cleanliness, employee health protocols, and safety in the restaurants. Our food safety programs are also intended to ensure that we not only continue to comply with applicable federal, state and local food safety regulations, but also establish Chipotle as an industry leader in food safety. To help achieve this goal, we have a Food Safety Advisory Council comprised of some of the nation’s foremost food safety authorities. The Food Safety Advisory Council is charged with evaluating our programs and advising us on ways to elevate our already high standards for food safety. Our food safety and quality assurance team members hold board seats and participate in technical working groups with several associations. This gives us the opportunity to learn and share our knowledge and expertise with other food safety professionals and regulatory agencies.

Digital Business

Our digital platform continues to be a strategic driver of our growth. We have significantly upgraded our capabilities by digitizing almost all of our restaurant kitchens, expanding our partnerships with third-party delivery services and building more Chipotlanes, which is our drive through format for customer pick-up of digital orders. Digital sales, which includes delivery and customer pick-up, represented 45.6% of our total revenue in 2021, compared to 46.2% of total revenue in 2020. Our strong digital platform gave us a competitive advantage during the peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic, as more guests preferred to eat their meals at home and in-restaurant dining was prohibited or restricted. We have made digital ordering convenient with enhancements to the Chipotle App and website, such as unlimited customization, contactless delivery, and group ordering.

 

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Human Capital

As of December 31, 2021, Chipotle employed 97,660 people worldwide. In the United States, we employed 94,992 people in our restaurants and 1,451 people in our Restaurant Support Centers and field support organizations; 96,443 individuals are employed in the U.S. and 1,217 are employed in Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Currently, none of our employees are represented by unions. We believe our efforts to manage our workforce have been effective, as evidenced by a strong culture and our employees’ demonstrated commitment to living our purpose and values.

Culture, Values & Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

As a people-first company rooted in values, our purpose of Cultivating a Better World extends beyond serving nutritious food using real ingredients. It means hiring world-class individuals dedicated to investing in their future and partnering together to positively impact the communities they serve. Most notably, it means fostering a culture that champions diversity, ensures equity, and celebrates inclusion.

As of December 31, 2021, more than 50% of our U.S.-based employee population is female and approximately 68% of our U.S based employee population is comprised of racial and ethnic minorities. U.S. diversity statistics were as follows:

Gender

Race/Ethnicity

Female

53%

Hispanic or Latino

38%

Male

46%

White

30%

Not Indicated

1%

Black or African American

20%

Asian

5%

Two or More Races

4%

Not Indicated/Specified

2%

American Indian/Alaskan Native

1%

Our most recent EEO-1 consolidated report is posted on the Investors page of our website at www.ir.chipotle.com under Corporate Governance – Human Capital Information and additional details about the demographics of our employee population is included in our biennial Sustainability Report and interim Update Report on our website www.chipotle.com/about-us/sustainability.

Talent Partnerships

We develop Talent Partnerships to amplify our purpose and vision for people and to foster talent curation, grow our employees and scale Chipotle. We believe we have a compelling employee value proposition that enables us to engage current team members, as well as the communities we serve, via these partnerships. Internally, we connect with employees who are enrolled in our debt-free degree programs and explore career pathways and internal opportunities in collaboration with leaders throughout the corporate Restaurant Support Centers and restaurant and field staff. Externally, we are forging alliances with select organizations whose mission and values are aligned with ours, and who are also committed to growing their people and ensuring equity; Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Job Corps and Paul Quinn College are amongst these partners. We believe our overall talent strategy will allow us to effectively leverage existing talent to grow future leaders and mitigate turnover, while increasing employee engagement and driving business results.

Total Rewards

The financial, physical and mental wellness of our employees remains our top priority. During 2021, we conducted an independent pay equity analysis of our U.S. workforce to identify risks and pay gaps in our organization by gender and race/ethnicity to support our commitment to pay our employees equally across gender and race/ethnicity. The results of the 2021 analysis did not identify preferential treatment to any class of employee; however, we identified several isolated discrepancies between actual compensation and our policies and we quickly made pay adjustments to close all identified gaps. Our commitment to pay equity is evidenced by our investment in our compensation packages and robust suite of benefit offerings, such as:

Eligible Crew members who work at locations that meet team sales and output goals may qualify for a quarterly Crew Bonus (equivalent to one week’s worth of pay on average). In addition to quarterly performance bonuses, full-time crew members with at least one continuous year of service may be eligible for an annual bonus. In 2021, we paid out $6.7 million across these bonus programs.

Wages for hourly crew members increased over 15% in 2021, resulting in a national average hourly wage of greater than $15.00 per hour by the end of the year.

An expanded Debt-Free Degree program that now provides Chipotle employees access to nearly 100 degrees at 10 universities, completely tuition debt free.

 

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New Career Certificates further enhances our Tuition Assistance benefits by providing on-demand Certificate programs to help Chipotle team members advance their careers in as little as eight weeks.

Personalized mental health assistance is available to all Chipotle employees and their family members through a partnership with Health Advocate; support is available 24/7 via in-person, phone, or virtual visits with a licensed counselor.

Government Regulation and Environmental Matters

We are subject to various federal, state and local laws and regulations that govern aspects of our business operations, including those governing:

COVID-19 protective measures, such as requiring employees and/or guests to provide proof of vaccination, imposing social distancing, and requiring and enforcing the wearing of face coverings;

the preparation, sale and labeling of food, including regulations of the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety of the entire food system, including inspections and mandatory food recalls, menu labeling and nutritional content;

employment practices and working conditions, such as minimum wage rates, wage and hour practices, requirements to provide meal and rest periods, Fair Workweek and “just cause” legislation, employment of minors, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, classification of employees, paid and family leave, workplace safety accommodations to certain employees, immigration and overtime pay, among others;

privacy and data security, laws governing the collection, maintenance and use of information regarding employees and guests and consumer credit protection and fraud;

compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws that give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the context of employment, public accommodations and other areas;

environmental practices, such as the discharge, storage, handling, release and disposal of hazardous or toxic substances, and regulations restricting the use of straws, utensils and the types of packaging we can use in our restaurants;

building and zoning requirements, including state and local licensing and regulation governing the design and operation of facilities and land use; and

licensing and regulation by health, alcoholic beverage, sanitation, food and other agencies.

While costs associated with compliance with these laws and regulations have increased as the number and scope of the laws have increased, the total costs incurred have not had, and are not expected to have, a material effect on our capital expenditures, results of operations or competitive position. See “Risk Factors” in Item 1A for a discussion of risks relating to federal, state, local and international laws and regulations applicable to our business.

Seasonality

Seasonal factors influencing our business are described under the heading “Quarterly Financial Data/Seasonality” in Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”

Competition

The fast-casual, quick-service, and casual dining segments of the restaurant industry are highly competitive with respect to, among other things, taste, price, food quality and presentation, service, location, convenience, brand reputation, cleanliness, and ambience of each restaurant. Our competition includes a variety of restaurants in each of these segments, including locally-owned restaurants, as well as national and regional chains. Competition from food delivery services, which offer meals from a wide variety of restaurants, also has increased in recent years, particularly during COVID-19, and is expected to continue to increase. Many of our competitors also offer dine-in, carry-out, online, catering, and delivery services. Among our main competitors are restaurant formats that claim to serve higher quality ingredients without artificial flavors, colors and preservatives, and that serve food quickly and at a reasonable price.

Our Intellectual Property and Trademarks

“Chipotle,” “Chipotle Mexican Grill,” “Food With Integrity,” “Responsibly Raised,” “Chipotle Rewards,” and a number of other marks and related designs and logos are U.S. registered trademarks of Chipotle. We have filed trademark applications for a number of additional marks in the U.S. as well. In addition to our U.S. registrations, we have registered trademarks for “Chipotle” and a number of other marks in Canada, the European Union and various other countries, and have filed trademark applications for “Chipotle Mexican Grill,” “Chipotle” and a number of other marks in additional countries. We also believe that the design of our restaurants is our proprietary trade dress and have registered elements of our restaurant design for trade dress protection in the U.S. as well.

 

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From time to time, we have taken action against other restaurants that we believe are misappropriating our trademarks, restaurant designs or advertising. Although our policy is to protect and defend vigorously our rights to our intellectual property, we may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which could harm the value of our brand and adversely affect our business.

Available Information

We maintain a website at www.chipotle.com, including an investor relations section at ir.chipotle.com, on which we routinely post important information, such as webcasts of quarterly earnings calls and other investor events in which we participate or host, and any related materials. Our Code of Ethics and our Code of Conduct for Suppliers also are available in this section of our website. You may access our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports, as well as other reports relating to us that are filed with or furnished to the SEC, free of charge in the investor relations section of our website as soon as reasonably practicable after such material is electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC. The SEC also maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov.

The contents of the websites mentioned above and elsewhere in this report are not incorporated into and should not be considered a part of this report. The references to the URLs for these websites are intended to be inactive textual references only.

 

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS

You should carefully consider the risks described below in addition to the other information set forth in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including the “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations” section and the consolidated financial statements and related notes. If any of the risks and uncertainties described below actually occur or continue to occur, our business, financial condition and results of operations, and the trading price of our common stock could be materially and adversely affected. The risks and uncertainties described below are those that we have identified as material but are not the only risks and uncertainties we face. Our business is also subject to general risks and uncertainties that affect many other companies, including, but not limited to, overall economic and industry conditions. Additional risks not currently known to us or that we presently deem immaterial may arise or become material and may negatively impact our business, reputation, financial condition, results of operations or the trading price of our common stock.

Risks Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected and could continue to adversely affect our financial results, operations and outlook for an extended period of time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had and is likely to continue to have a significant impact on our business and results of operations. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020 and during subsequent resurgences of the virus, government restrictions have required us to close some of our restaurants, close dining rooms and offer only takeout and delivery, impose social distancing, require proof of vaccinations and enforce the wearing of face coverings. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has required and may continue to require us to make difficult decisions about COVID-19 protective measures, such as requiring employees and guests to be vaccinated and/or wear face coverings, which could impact our brand, employee satisfaction, hiring and retention, and the willingness of guests to frequent our restaurants.

Our restaurant operations have been and could continue to be disrupted by employees who are unable or unwilling to work, whether because of illness, quarantine, fear of contracting COVID-19 or caring for family members impacted by COVID-19. The so-called “great resignation” trend that began in 2021, in which U.S. employees voluntarily resigned from their jobs in large numbers, has further strained our ability to keep our restaurants fully staffed and negatively impacted employee satisfaction.

The COVID-19 outbreak also has impacted and is likely to continue to impact our supply chain, which could negatively impact our business. These impacts could include but are not limited to disruptions in our ability to obtain ingredients, packaging and cleaning supplies due to labor shortages at our suppliers and service providers, transportation bottlenecks, or increases in raw material and commodity costs. If our suppliers do not fulfill their obligations to us, we could face shortages of food items or other supplies at our restaurants, and our results of operations and sales could be adversely impacted.

We cannot predict the impact that resurgences of the COVID-19 virus and new variants of the virus will have on the overall economy and consumer behavior, or how long those impacts may last, so we cannot predict how long our results of operations and financial performance will be adversely impacted.

Risks Related to Human Capital

If we are not able to hire, train, reward and retain qualified restaurant employees and/or appropriately plan our workforce, our growth plan and profitability could be adversely affected.

We rely on our restaurant-level employees to consistently provide high-quality food and positive experiences to our guests. In addition, our ability to continue to open new restaurants depends on us recruiting, training and retaining high-quality employees to manage and work in our restaurants. Maintaining appropriate staffing in our restaurants requires precise workforce planning, which has become more complex due to predictive scheduling (“fair workweek” or “secure scheduling”) laws and “just cause” termination legislation in certain geographic areas where we operate, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the so-called “great resignation” trend on relevant labor markets. The market for qualified talent continues to be competitive and we must provide increasingly competitive wages, benefits and workplace conditions to retain qualified employees. We have experienced and may continue to experience challenges in recruiting and retaining restaurant employees and in maintaining full restaurant staffing in various locations, which has resulted in longer wait times for guest orders, temporary closures of the digital make line and decreased employee satisfaction. A shortage of qualified candidates who meet all legal work authorization requirements, our failure to recruit and retain new restaurant employees in a timely manner or higher than expected turnover levels could affect our ability to open new restaurants, grow sales at existing restaurants or meet our labor cost objectives. In addition, failure to adequately monitor and proactively respond to employee dissatisfaction could lead to poor guest satisfaction, higher turnover, litigation and unionization efforts, which could negatively impact our ability to meet our growth targets.

 

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If we fail to comply with applicable federal, state and local employment and labor laws and regulations, it could have a material, adverse impact on our business.

Various federal, state and local employment and labor laws and regulations govern our relationships with our employees, and similar laws and regulations apply to our operations outside of the U.S. These laws and regulations relate to matters such as employment discrimination, wage and hour laws, predictive scheduling (“fair workweek”) and “just cause” termination laws, requirements to provide and document meal and rest periods or other benefits, family leave mandates, requirements regarding working conditions and accommodations to certain employees, citizenship or work authorization and related requirements, insurance and workers’ compensation rules, healthcare laws and anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws. We incur significant costs to comply with these laws and regulations and non-compliance could expose us to significant liabilities. For example, previously a number of lawsuits have been filed against us alleging violations of federal and state laws regarding employee wages and payment of overtime, meal and rest breaks, employee classification, employee record-keeping and related practices with respect to our employees. We incur legal costs to defend, and we could incur losses from these and similar cases, and the amount of such losses or costs could be significant.

In addition, several jurisdictions, including New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, Oregon, San Francisco and San Jose, have implemented fair workweek or “secure scheduling” legislation, which impose complex requirements related to scheduling for certain restaurant and retail employees, and additional jurisdictions are considering similar legislation. Several jurisdictions also have implemented sick pay/paid time off legislation, which requires employers to provide paid time off to employees, and “just cause” termination legislation, which restricts companies’ ability to terminate employees unless they can prove “just cause” or a “bona fide economic reason” for the termination. All of these regulations impose additional obligations on us and our failure to comply with any of these regulations could subject us to penalties and other legal liabilities, which could adversely affect our business and results of operations and potentially cause us to close or reduce operating hours of some restaurants in these jurisdictions. For example, we previously reported that a complaint has been filed against us alleging that we have violated New York City’s Fair Work Week law and Earned Safe and Sick Time Act at our restaurants in New York City. We also have been subject to several audits of our compliance with employment law requirements in other cities.

Difficulties in hiring qualified employees and increases in the cost of labor could adversely impact our business and profitability.

Our business has been and could continue to be adversely impacted by increases in labor costs caused by factors such as federal, state and local laws governing matters such as minimum wages, meal and rest breaks and changes to eligibility for overtime pay; regulations regarding scheduling and benefits; increased health care and workers’ compensation insurance costs; higher wages and costs of other benefits necessary to attract, hire and retain high-quality employees with the right skill sets in a highly competitive job market; and increased wages, benefits and costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our ability to offset higher labor costs by increasing menu prices depends on the willingness of our guests to pay the higher prices and the perceived value of our meals relative to competitors. If competitive pressures or other factors prevent us from offsetting higher labor costs by increased menu prices, our profitability may decline.

Additionally, while our employees are not currently covered by any collective bargaining agreements, union organizers have engaged in efforts to organize our employees and those of other restaurant companies. If a significant portion of our employees were to unionize, our labor costs could increase, and it could negatively impact our culture, reduce our flexibility and disrupt our business. In addition, our responses to any union organizing efforts could negatively impact our reputation and dissuade guests from patronizing our restaurants.

 

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Risks Related to the Nature of our Business and the Restaurant Industry

Food safety and food-borne illness concerns may have an adverse effect on our business by decreasing sales and increasing costs.

Food safety is our top priority, and we dedicate significant resources to ensuring that our guests enjoy safe, high-quality food products. However, even with strong preventative controls and interventions, food safety risks cannot be completely eliminated in any restaurant and incidents of food-borne illnesses continue to occur in the restaurant industry. Incidents may result from the failure of restaurant employees or suppliers to follow our food safety policies and procedures, or from employees or guests entering our restaurant while ill and contaminating ingredients or surfaces. Although we monitor and audit compliance with our program, we cannot guarantee that each and every food item is safely and properly maintained from the start of the supply chain through guest consumption. Any report, legitimate or otherwise, of food-borne illness such as E. coli, hepatitis A, norovirus or salmonella, or other food safety issue, such as food tampering or contamination, at one of our restaurants could adversely affect our reputation and have a negative impact on our sales. In addition, instances of food-borne illness or food safety issues that occur solely at competitors’ restaurants could result in negative publicity about the restaurant industry and adversely impact our sales. Social media has dramatically increased the speed with which negative publicity, including actual or perceived food safety incidents, is disseminated before there is any meaningful opportunity to investigate, respond and address an issue. The occurrence of food-borne illnesses or food safety issues could also adversely affect the price and availability of affected ingredients, resulting in higher costs and lower margins.

We may be more susceptible than our competitors to incur significant negative consequences from food safety incidents due to several highly publicized food safety events that previously occurred in our restaurants. From 2015 to 2018, illnesses caused by E. coli and C. perfringens bacteria and norovirus were connected to a number of our restaurants. These incidents and the related negative publicity had a significant negative impact on our sales and profitability for those years. Because of consumer perceptions in the wake of these food safety incidents, any future food safety incidents associated with our restaurants—even incidents that would be considered minor at other restaurants—may have a more significant negative impact on our sales and our ability to retain guests. In addition, we may be at a higher risk for food safety incidents than some competitors due to our greater use of fresh, unprocessed produce, handling of raw chicken in our restaurants, our reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation, and our avoidance of frozen ingredients. The risk of illnesses associated with our food also may increase due to the growth of our delivery or catering businesses, in which our food is transported, stored and/or served in conditions that are not under our control. All of these factors could have an adverse impact on our ability to attract and retain guests, which could in turn have a material adverse effect on our growth and profitability.

Our delivery business, which accounted for a significant portion of our 2021 total revenue, is subject to risks.

In 2021, 45.6% of our total revenue was derived from digital orders, which includes delivery and customer pickup in-restaurant and through our Chipotlanes. Approximately 21.5% of our 2021 total revenue consisted of delivery orders for which we are reliant on third-party delivery companies. Depending on which ordering platform a guest uses – our platform or the platform of a third-party delivery service – the delivery fee we collect from the guest may be less than the actual delivery cost, which has a negative impact on our profitability. In 2021, we implemented several menu price increases to partially offset the increases in higher delivery, labor and other costs; however, our higher menu prices may cause some guests to shift their purchases to other restaurants offered on the platform. These delivery companies maintain control over data regarding our guests who use their platform and over the guest experience. If a third-party delivery driver fails to make timely deliveries or fails to deliver the complete order, our guests may attribute the bad customer experience to Chipotle and could stop ordering from us. The ordering and payment platforms used by these third-parties, or our mobile app or online ordering system, could be interrupted by technological failures, user errors, cyber-attacks or other factors, which could adversely impact sales through these channels and negatively impact our overall sales and reputation. The third-party delivery business is intensely competitive, with a number of players competing for market share, online traffic capital, and delivery drivers. If the third-party delivery companies we utilize cease or curtail operations, increase their fees, or give greater priority or promotions on their platforms to our competitors, our delivery business and our sales may be negatively impacted. The delivery business has been consolidating and may continue to consolidate, which may give third-party delivery companies more leverage in negotiating the terms and pricing of contracts, which in turn could negatively impact our profits from this channel.

 

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The restaurant industry is highly competitive. If we are not able to compete successfully, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.

The restaurant industry is highly competitive with respect to taste preferences, price, food quality and selection, customer service, brand reputation, digital engagement, advertising and promotional initiatives, and the location, attractiveness and maintenance of restaurants. We also compete with a number of non-traditional market participants, such as convenience stores, grocery stores, coffee shops, meal kit delivery services, and “ghost” or “dark” kitchens, where meals are prepared at separate takeaway premises rather than a restaurant. Competition from food delivery services, which promote a wide variety of restaurant options on their sites, also has increased in recent years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased competition could have an adverse effect on our sales, profitability and development plans. If consumer or dietary preferences change, if our marketing efforts are unsuccessful, or if our restaurants are unable to compete successfully with other restaurant outlets, our business could be adversely affected.

We continue to believe that our commitment to higher-quality and responsibly sourced ingredients resonates with guests and gives us a competitive advantage; however, more competitors have made and continue to make claims related to the quality of their ingredients and lack of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. The increasing use of these claims by competitors, regardless of the accuracy of such claims, may lessen our differentiation and make it more difficult for us to compete. If we are unable to continue to maintain our distinctiveness and compete effectively, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

Our inability or failure to recognize, respond to and effectively manage the immediacy of social media could have a material adverse impact on our business.

Social media and internet-based communications, including video-sharing, social networking and messaging platforms, give users immediate access to a broad audience. These platforms have dramatically increased the speed of dissemination and accessibility of information, including negative publicity related to food safety incidents and negative guest and employee experiences. Accurate and inaccurate or misleading information can be widely disseminated before there is any meaningful opportunity to respond or address an issue. As a result of our highly publicized food safety incidents in 2015 - 2018, negative social media posts about our business may generate a disproportionately negative response than would be experienced by other companies without a similar history. It is impossible for us to fully predict or control social media backlash, which could harm our business, prospects, financial condition, and results of operations, regardless of the information’s accuracy.

Use of social media is an important element of our marketing efforts. New social media platforms are developing rapidly, and we need to continuously innovate and evolve our social media strategies to maintain broad appeal with guests and brand relevance. We also continue to invest in other digital marketing initiatives to reach our guests and build their awareness of, engagement with, and loyalty to us, including our “Chipotle Rewards” national loyalty program. These initiatives may not be successful, resulting in expenses incurred without the benefit of higher revenues, increased customer engagement or brand recognition. Other risks associated with our use of social media include association with influencers or online celebrities who become embroiled in controversy, improper disclosure of proprietary information, negative comments about us, exposure of personally identifiable information, fraud, hoaxes or malicious dissemination of false information. The inappropriate use of social media by our guests or employees could lead to litigation or result in negative publicity that could damage our reputation.

If we do not continue to persuade consumers of the benefits of paying higher prices for our higher-quality food, our sales and results of operations could be hurt.

Our success depends in large part on our ability to persuade consumers that food made with ingredients that were raised or grown according to our Food With Integrity principles is worth paying a higher price relative to prices of some of our competitors, particularly quick-service restaurant competitors. Under our Food With Integrity principles, for example, animals must be responsibly raised, and the milk in our sour cream, cheese and queso must come from cows that have not been treated with rBGH, which practices typically are more costly than conventional farming. If we are not able to successfully persuade consumers that consuming food made consistent with our Food With Integrity principles is better for them and the environment, or if consumers are not willing to pay the prices we charge, our sales could be adversely affected, which would negatively impact our results of operations.

 

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Risks Related to Supply Chain

Increases in the costs of ingredient and other materials, including increases caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate and/or other sustainability risks, could adversely affect our results of operations.

Supply chain risk could increase our costs and limit the availability of ingredients and supplies that are critical to our restaurant operations. The markets for some of our ingredients, such as beef, avocado and other produce, are particularly volatile due to factors beyond our control such as limited sources, seasonal shifts, climate conditions and industry demand, including as a result of animal disease outbreaks, international commodity markets, food safety concerns, product recalls and government regulation. In addition, for certain of our ingredients and other materials, we have a limited number of suppliers and distributors. We remain in regular contact with our major suppliers and to date we have not experienced significant disruptions in our supply chain; however, in the latter part of 2021 costs for certain supplies and ingredients, such as packaging, beef, tortillas and freight, increased materially and rapidly, which inflationary pressures could continue and/or spread to more categories as the impacts of COVID-19 continue across the global supply chain. Our efforts to mitigate future price risk through forward contracts, careful planning and other activities may not fully insulate us from increases in commodity costs, which could have an adverse impact on our profitability.

We also could be adversely impacted by price increases specific to meats raised in accordance with our Responsibly Raised animal welfare criteria, and ingredients grown in accordance with our Food With Integrity specifications, the markets for which are generally smaller and more concentrated than the markets for conventionally raised or grown ingredients. Any increase in the prices of the ingredients most critical to our menu, such as chicken, beef, dairy (for cheese and sour cream), avocados, beans, rice, tomatoes and pork, would have a particularly adverse effect on our operating results. If the cost of one or more ingredients significantly increases, we may choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items that use those ingredients, such as guacamole or one of our proteins, rather than pay the increased cost. Any such changes to our available menu may negatively impact our restaurant traffic and could adversely impact our sales and brand.

Shortages or interruptions in the supply of ingredients could adversely affect our operating results.

Our business is dependent on frequent and consistent deliveries of ingredients that comply with our Food With Integrity specifications. We may experience shortages, delays or interruptions in the supply of ingredients and other supplies to our restaurants due to inclement weather, natural disasters, labor issues or other operational disruptions at our suppliers, distributors or transportation providers, or other conditions beyond our control. In addition, we have a single or a limited number of suppliers for some of our ingredients, including certain cuts of beef, tomatoes, tortillas and adobo. Although we believe we have potential alternative suppliers and sufficient reserves of ingredients, shortages or interruptions in our supply of ingredients could adversely affect our financial results.

Risks Related to IT Systems, Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

Breaches or other unauthorized access, theft, modification or destruction of confidential guest, employee and other material, confidential information that is stored in our systems or by third parties on our behalf could adversely affect our business.

We could experience a cyber incident, which generally refers to any intentional attack or an unintentional event that results in unauthorized access to systems to disrupt operations, corrupt data or steal or expose confidential information or intellectual property, or a ransomware attack, which is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users' access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it. Any such incident that compromises the information of our guests or employees could result in widespread negative publicity, damage to our reputation, a loss of guests, disruption of our business and legal liabilities. If any of our critical suppliers is the subject of a cyber or ransomware attack, we could experience a significant disruption in our supply chain and possibly shortages of key ingredients. In the past year, a ransomware attack on one of our key suppliers required us to revert to a manual ordering and tracking process, which resulted in some delays and reduced efficiencies.

As our reliance on technology has grown, the scope and severity of risks posed to our systems from cyber threats has increased. In addition, as more business activities have shifted online and more people are working remotely, including as a result of COVID-19, we have experienced an increase in cybersecurity threats and attempts to breach our security networks. The techniques and sophistication used to conduct cyber-attacks and breaches of information technology systems, as well as the sources and targets of these attacks, change frequently and are often not recognized until attacks are launched or have been in place for a period of time. We continuously monitor and develop our information technology networks and infrastructure to prevent, detect, address and mitigate the risk of unauthorized access, misuse, malware and other events that could have a security impact; however there can be no assurance that these measures will be effective.

 

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The majority of our restaurant sales are made by credit or debit cards, and we also maintain personal information regarding our employees and confidential information about our guests and suppliers. We segment our card data environment and employ a cyber security protection program that is based on proven industry frameworks, including cyber security techniques, tactics and procedures such as the deployment of a robust set of security controls, continuous monitoring and detection programs, network protections, vendor selection criteria, secure software development programs and ongoing employee training, awareness and incident response preparedness. In addition, we continuously scan our environment for any vulnerabilities, perform penetration testing, engage third parties to assess effectiveness of our security measures and collaborate with members of the cyber security community. However, there are no assurances that such programs will be effective in detecting or preventing cybersecurity breaches.

From time to time we have been, and likely will continue to be, the target of cyber and other security threats. For example, some of our guests have experienced account takeover fraud, in which guests use the same log in credentials on multiple websites and, when a third party fraudulently obtains those credentials from one website, they can gain unauthorized access to their accounts on our website and charge food orders to the credit card linked to the account (without accessing credit card data). We may in the future become subject to other legal proceedings or governmental investigations for purportedly fraudulent transactions arising out of the actual or alleged theft of data or if consumer or employee information is obtained by unauthorized persons or used inappropriately. Any such claim or proceeding, or any adverse publicity resulting from such an event, may have a material adverse effect on our business and we may incur significant remediation costs.

We may incur increased costs to comply with privacy and data protection laws and, if we fail to comply, we could be subject to government enforcement actions, private litigation and adverse publicity.

Complex local, state, federal and international laws and regulations apply to the collection, use, retention, protection, disclosure, transfer and other processing of personal data. These privacy and data protection laws and regulations are quickly evolving, with new or modified laws and regulations proposed and implemented frequently and existing laws and regulations subject to new or different interpretations and enforcement. For example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) requires companies to meet certain requirements regarding the handling of personal data, including its use, protection and transfer and the ability of persons whose data is stored to correct or delete such data about themselves. Failure to meet the GDPR requirements could result in penalties of up to 4% of annual worldwide revenue. Additionally, the California Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”), which became effective on January 1, 2020, provides a private right of action for data breaches and requires companies that process information of California residents to make new disclosures to consumers about their data collection, use and sharing practices, allow consumers to opt out of certain data sharing with third parties and to request deletion of personal information (subject to certain exceptions). Further, the California Privacy Rights Act, which was passed in November 2020 and is fully effective on January 1, 2023, significantly modifies the CCPA. These modifications will require us to incur additional costs and expenses in our effort to comply. Virginia and Colorado recently enacted similar data privacy legislation that will take effect in 2023, and several other states and countries are considering expanding or passing privacy laws in the near term. If we fail, or are perceived to have failed, to properly respond to security breaches of our or a third party’s information technology systems or fail to properly respond to consumer requests under the CCPA, we could experience reputational damage, adverse publicity, loss of consumer confidence, reduced sales and profits, complications in executing our growth initiatives and regulatory and legal risk, including criminal penalties or civil liabilities. In July 2021, the European Commission finalized recommendations in relation to cross-border data transfers and published new versions of the Standard Contractual Clauses. Together with the finalization of Brexit in April 2021, the new requirements will require us to incur additional costs and expenses in order to comply and may impact the transfer of personal data throughout our organization and to third parties.

Compliance with the current and future privacy and data protection laws can be costly and time-consuming and there is no assurance that our compliance efforts will be successful in preventing breaches or data loss. Our failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations or other obligations to which we may be subject relating to personal data, or to protect personal data from unauthorized access, use or other processing, could result in enforcement actions and regulatory investigations against us, claims for damages by customers and other affected individuals, fines or damage to our brand reputation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our operations, financial performance and business.

The regulatory environment related to privacy and data security is changing at an ever-increasing pace, with new and increasingly rigorous requirements applicable to our business. In addition, many of the leading third-party tech platforms are moving away from third-party cookies, such as ours, and moving to their own required frameworks, which may hinder our ability to target our marketing efforts. Along with newly developed laws and regulations, the frameworks of these tech platforms are subject to change, carry uncertain interpretations and may be inconsistent in application, which may lead to a decline in guest engagement or cause us to incur substantial costs or modifications to our operations or business practices to comply.

 

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We rely heavily on information technology systems and failures or interruptions in our IT systems could harm our ability to effectively operate our business and/or result in the loss of guests or employees.

We rely heavily on information technology systems, including the point-of-sale and payment processing system in our restaurants, technologies supporting our digital and delivery business, technologies that traceback ingredients to suppliers and growers and manage our supply chain, our rewards program, technologies that facilitate marketing initiatives, employee engagement and payroll processing, and various other processes and transactions. Our ability to effectively manage our business and coordinate the procurement, production, distribution, safety and sale of our products depends significantly on the availability, reliability and security of these systems. Many of these critical systems are provided and managed by third parties, and we are reliant on these third-party providers to implement protective measures that ensure the security and availability of their systems. Although we have operational safeguards in place, these safeguards may not be effective in preventing the failure of these third-party systems or platforms to operate effectively and be available. Failures may be caused by various factors, including power outages, catastrophic events, physical theft, computer and network failures, inadequate or ineffective redundancy, problems with transitioning to upgraded or replacement systems or platforms, flaws in third-party software or services, errors or improper use by our employees or the third-party service providers. If any of our critical IT systems were to become unreliable, unavailable, compromised or otherwise fail, and we were unable to recover in a timely manner, we could experience an interruption in our operations that could have a material adverse impact on our profitability.

Our inability or failure to execute a comprehensive business continuity plan at our restaurant support centers following a disaster or force majeure event could have a material adverse impact on our business.

Many of our corporate systems and processes and corporate support for our restaurant operations are centralized at one location. We have disaster recovery procedures and business continuity plans in place to address crisis-level events, including hurricanes and other natural disasters, and back up and off-site locations for recovery of electronic and other forms of data and information, and the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a limited test of our ability to manage our business remotely. However, if we are unable to fully implement our disaster recovery plans, we may experience delays in recovery of data, inability to perform vital corporate functions, tardiness in required reporting and compliance, failures to adequately support field operations and other breakdowns in normal communication and operating procedures that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operation and exposure to administrative and other legal claims. In addition, these threats are constantly evolving, which increases the difficulty of accurately and timely predicting, planning for and protecting against the threat. As a result, our disaster recovery procedures and business continuity plans security may not adequately address all threats we face or protect us from loss.

Legal and Regulatory Risks

A violation of Chipotle’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement could have an adverse effect on our business and reputation.

In April 2020, Chipotle signed a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (the “DPA”) to settle an official criminal investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations (collectively, the “DOJ”), into company-wide food safety matters that occurred in our restaurants dating back to January 1, 2013. Pursuant to the DPA, the DOJ filed a two-count Class A Misdemeanor Information in the United States District Court for the Central District of California charging Chipotle with adulterating and causing food to be adulterated within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act while such food was held for sale. Under the DPA, Chipotle paid a fine and is required to maintain a comprehensive compliance program that is designed to ensure Chipotle complies with all applicable federal and state food safety laws. The DOJ agreed that if Chipotle is in full compliance with all of its obligations under the DPA at the conclusion of the three-year deferred prosecution term, the DOJ will move to dismiss the two-count information filed against Chipotle. Full compliance with the DPA requires, among other things, Chipotle to conduct a root cause analysis of the historic food safety matters, maintain and annually update a comprehensive food safety plan and comply with applicable provisions of the FDCA.

Chipotle owns and operates over 2,900 restaurants and we dedicate substantial resources to our food safety program; however, even with strong preventative controls and interventions, food safety risks cannot be completely eliminated in any restaurant. Food safety risks may arise due to possible failures by restaurant employees or suppliers to follow food safety policies and procedures, employees or guests coming to the restaurant while ill or serving contaminated food ingredients. If Chipotle is found to have breached the terms of the DPA, the DOJ may elect to prosecute, or bring a civil action against the company for conduct alleged in the DPA’s Statement of Facts, which could result in additional fines, penalties, and have material adverse impacts on our results of operations. In addition, further action by the DOJ may significantly and adversely affect our brand and reputation, especially in light of our highly publicized food safety incidents in 2015 – 2018.

 

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We could be party to litigation or other legal proceedings that could adversely affect our business, results of operations and reputation.

We have been and likely will continue to be subject to litigation and other legal proceedings that may adversely affect our business. These legal proceedings may involve claims brought by employees, guests, government agencies, suppliers, shareholders or others through private actions, class actions, administrative proceedings, regulatory actions or other litigation. These legal proceedings may involve allegations of illegal, unfair or inconsistent employment practices, including wage and hour, employment of minors, discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and vacation and family leave laws; food safety issues including food-borne illness, food contamination and adverse health effects from consumption of our food products; data security or privacy breaches; guest discrimination; personal injury in our restaurants; trademark infringement; violation of the federal securities laws or other concerns. For example, a number of lawsuits have been filed against us alleging violations of federal and state employment laws, including wage and hour claims, and in 2020 we signed a DPA with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California referred to earlier. We could be involved in similar or even more significant litigation and legal proceedings in the future. Even if the allegations against us in current or future legal matters are unfounded or we ultimately are not held liable, the costs to defend ourselves may be significant and the litigation may subject us to substantial settlements, fines, penalties or judgments against us and may divert management's attention away from operating our business, all of which could negatively impact our financial condition and results of operations. Litigation also may generate negative publicity, regardless of whether the allegations are valid, or we ultimately are liable, which could damage our reputation, and adversely impact our sales and our relationship with our employees and guests.

We are subject to extensive laws, government regulation, and other legal requirements and our failure to comply with existing or new laws and regulations could adversely affect our operational efficiencies, ability to attract and retain talent and results of operations.

Our business is subject to extensive federal, state, local and international laws and regulations, including those relating to:

preparation, sale and labeling of food, including regulations of the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety of the entire food system, including inspections and mandatory food recalls, menu labeling and nutritional content;

employment practices and working conditions, including minimum wage rates, wage and hour practices, Fair Workweek and “just cause” legislation, employment of minors, discrimination, harassment, classification of employees, paid and family leave, workplace safety, immigration and overtime among others;

health, sanitation, safety and fire standards and the sale of alcoholic beverages;

building and zoning requirements, including state and local licensing and regulation governing the design and operation of facilities and land use;

public accommodations and safety conditions, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar state laws that give civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the context of employment, public accommodations, and other areas;

data privacy laws and standards for the protection of personal information, including social security numbers, financial information (including credit card numbers), and health information, and payment card industry standards and requirements;

environmental matters, such as emissions and air quality, water consumption, the discharge, storage, handling, release, and disposal of hazardous or toxic substances, and local ordinances restricting the types of packaging we can use in our restaurants; and

public company compliance, disclosure and governance matters, including accounting and tax regulations, SEC and NYSE disclosure requirements.

Compliance with these laws and regulations, and future new laws or changes in these laws or regulations that impose additional requirements, can be costly. Any failure or perceived failure to comply with these laws or regulations could result in, among other things, revocation of required licenses, administrative enforcement actions, fines and civil and criminal liability.

 

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Risks Related to Our Growth and Business Strategy

If we are unable to meet our projections for new restaurant openings, or efficiently maintain the attractiveness of our existing restaurants, our profitability could suffer.

Our growth depends on our ability to open new restaurants and operate them profitably. Since 2020, COVID-19 related disruptions in the global supply chain have increased the cost and decreased the availability of construction materials and restaurant equipment needed to open and operate our restaurants, which can delay the openings of new restaurants. In addition, we incur substantial startup expenses each time we open a new restaurant, and it can take up to 24 months to ramp up the sales and profitability of a new restaurant, during which time costs may be higher as we train new employees and build up a customer base. If we are unable to build the customer base that we expect or fail to overcome the higher startup expenses associated with new restaurants, our new restaurants may not be as profitable as our existing restaurants. Our ability to open and profitably operate new restaurants also is subject to various risks, such as the identification and availability of desirable locations; the negotiation of acceptable lease terms; the need to obtain all required governmental permits (including zoning approvals and liquor licenses) and comply with other regulatory requirements; the availability of capable contractors and subcontractors; increases in the cost and decreases in the availability of labor and building material; changes in weather, natural disasters, pandemics or other acts of God that could delay construction and adversely affect guest traffic; our ability to hire and train qualified management and restaurant employees; and general economic and business conditions. At each potential location, we compete with other restaurants and retail businesses for desirable development sites, construction contractors, management personnel, hourly employees and other resources. If we are unable to successfully manage these risks, we could face increased costs and lower than anticipated sales and earnings in future periods.

In addition, in an effort to increase same-restaurant sales and improve our operating performance, we continue to improve our existing restaurants through remodels, upgrades and regular upkeep. If the costs associated with remodels, upgrades or regular upkeep are higher than anticipated, restaurants are closed for remodeling for longer periods than planned or remodeled restaurants do not perform as expected, we may not realize our projected desired return on investment, which could have a negative effect on our operating results.

Substantially all of our restaurants operate in leased properties subject to long-term leases. If we are unable to secure new leases on favorable terms, terminate unfavorable leases or renew or extend favorable leases, our profitability may suffer.

We operate substantially all of our restaurants in leased facilities. It is becoming increasingly challenging to locate and secure favorable lease facilities for new restaurants as competition for restaurant sites in our target markets is intense. Development and leasing costs are increasing, particularly for urban locations. These factors could negatively impact our ability to manage our occupancy costs, which may adversely impact our profitability. In addition, any of these factors may be exacerbated by economic factors, which may result in an increased demand for developers and contractors that could drive up our construction and leasing costs. Also, as we open and operate more restaurants, our rate of expansion relative to the size of our existing restaurant base will decline, making it increasingly difficult to achieve levels of sales and profitability growth that we achieved in prior years.

From time to time we may close or relocate a restaurant if a current location becomes less profitable as a result of adverse economic conditions or local regulatory compliance in the area. We may incur significant lease termination expenses when we close or relocate a restaurant and are often obligated to continue to pay rent and other lease-related expenses after closing a restaurant. We also may incur significant asset impairment and other charges in connection with closures and relocations. If the lease termination cost is significant, we may decide to keep underperforming restaurants open. Ongoing lease obligations at closed or underperforming restaurant locations could decrease our results of operations. In addition, we may be unable to renew a lease without substantial additional cost at the end of the lease term and expiration of all renewal periods. As a result, we may be required to close or relocate a restaurant, which could subject us to construction and other costs and risks that may have an adverse effect on our operating performance.

Our failure to effectively manage and support our growth could have a negative adverse effect on our business and financial results.

As of December 31, 2021, we owned and operated 2,962 Chipotle restaurants and we plan to open a significant number of new restaurants in the next several years. Our existing restaurant management systems, back office technology systems and processes, financial and management controls, information systems and personnel may not be adequate to support our continued growth. To effectively manage a larger number of restaurants, we may need to upgrade and expand our infrastructure and information systems, automate more processes that currently are manual or require manual intervention and hire, train and retain restaurant employees and corporate support staff, all of which may result in increased costs and at least temporary inefficiencies. We also place a lot of importance on our culture, which we believe has been an important contributor to our success, and as we continue to grow, it may be increasingly difficult to maintain our culture. Our failure to sufficiently invest in our infrastructure and information systems and maintain our strong staffing and culture could harm our brand and operating results.

 

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A failure to recruit, develop and retain effective leaders or the loss or shortage of personnel with key capacities and skills could impact our strategic growth plans and jeopardize our ability to meet our business performance expectations and growth targets.

Our ability to continue to grow our business depends substantially on the contributions and abilities of our executive leadership team and other key management personnel. Changes in senior management could expose us to significant changes in strategic direction and initiatives. A failure to maintain appropriate organizational capacity and capability to support our strategic initiatives or to build adequate bench strength with key skillsets required for seamless succession of leadership, could jeopardize our ability to meet our business performance expectations and growth targets. If we are unable to attract, develop, retain and incentivize sufficiently experienced and capable management personnel, our business and financial results may suffer.

The market price of our common stock may be more volatile than the market price of our peers.

We believe the market price of our common stock generally has traded at a higher price-earnings ratio than stocks of most of our peer companies as well as the overall market, which typically has reflected market expectations for higher future operating results. At any given point in time, our price-earnings ratio may trade at more than twice the price-earnings ratio of the S&P 500. Also, the trading market for our common stock has been volatile at times, including as a result of adverse publicity events. As a result, if we fail to meet market expectations for our operating results in the future, any resulting decline in the price of our common stock could be significant.

General Risk Factors

Economic and business factors that are largely beyond our control may adversely affect consumer behavior and the results of our operations.

Restaurant dining generally is dependent upon consumer discretionary spending, which may be affected by general economic conditions that are beyond our control. For example, increasing inflation, international, domestic and regional economic conditions, consumer income levels, financial market volatility, a slow or stagnant pace of economic growth, rising energy costs, rising interest rates, social unrest, and governmental, political and budget concerns or divisions may have a negative effect on consumer confidence and discretionary spending. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we may experience a reduction and/or increased volatility in sales due to, among other things, reduced customer traffic due to illness, quarantine or government or self-imposed restrictions on our restaurant operations, customer responses to government imposed mask and vaccine mandates, and decreases in consumer confidence in general macroeconomic conditions and in discretionary spending. The rapid rise in inflation may prompt consumers to decrease discretionary spending. A significant decrease in our guest traffic or average transactions would negatively impact our financial performance. The actual or perceived threat of a pandemic or communicable disease, terrorist attack, mass shooting, heightened security requirements, including cybersecurity, or a failure to protect information systems for critical infrastructure, such as the electrical grid and telecommunications systems, could harm our operations, the economy or consumer confidence generally. Any of the above factors or other unfavorable changes in business and economic conditions affecting our guests could increase our costs, reduce traffic in some or all of our restaurants or limit our ability to increase pricing, any of which could lower our profit margins and have a material adverse effect on our sales, financial condition and results of operations. These factors also could cause us to, among other things, reduce the number and frequency of new restaurant openings, close restaurants or delay remodeling of our existing restaurant locations. Further, poor economic conditions may force nearby businesses to shut down, which could reduce traffic to our restaurants or cause our restaurant locations to be less attractive.

Climate change and volatile adverse weather conditions could adversely affect our restaurant sales or results of operations.

There is growing concern that climate change and global warming has caused and may continue to cause more severe, volatile weather or extended droughts, which could increase the frequency and duration of weather impacts on our operations. Adverse weather conditions have in the past and may again impact guest traffic at our restaurants, and, in more severe cases such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires or other natural disasters, cause temporary restaurant closures, all of which negatively impact our restaurant sales. In addition, our supply chain is subject to increased costs caused by the effects of climate change, greenhouse gases and diminishing energy and water resources. Increasing weather volatility and changes in global weather patterns can reduce crop size and crop quality, which could result in decreased availability or higher pricing for our produce and other ingredients. These factors are beyond our control and, in many instances, unpredictable. Climate change and government regulation relating to climate change could result in construction delays for new restaurants and interruptions to the availability or increases in the cost of utilities. The ongoing and long-term costs of these impacts related to climate change and other sustainability related issues could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition if we are not able to mitigate them.

 

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Our quarterly financial results may fluctuate significantly, including due to factors that are not in our control.

Our quarterly financial results may fluctuate significantly and could fail to meet investors’ expectations for various reasons, including:

negative publicity about the safety of our food, employment-related issues, litigation or other issues involving our restaurants;

fluctuations in supply costs, particularly for our most significant ingredients, and our inability to offset the higher cost with price increases without adversely impacting guest traffic;

labor availability and wages of restaurant management and employees;

increases in marketing or promotional expenses;

the timing of new restaurant openings and related revenues and expenses, and the operating costs at newly opened restaurants;

the impact of inclement weather and natural disasters, such as freezes and droughts, which could decrease guest traffic and increase the costs of ingredients;

the amount and timing of stock-based compensation;

litigation, settlement costs and related legal expenses;

tax expenses, asset impairment charges and non-operating costs; and

variations in general economic conditions, including the impact of declining interest rates on our interest income.

As a result of any of these factors, results for any one quarter are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for any other quarter or for any year. Average restaurant sales or comparable restaurant sales in any particular future period may decrease.

ITEM 1B.  UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

None.

ITEM 2. PROPERTIES

As of December 31, 2021, there were 2,966 restaurants operated by Chipotle and our consolidated subsidiaries, 2,962 of which were Chipotle restaurants. Our main office is located at 610 Newport Center Drive, Suite 1400, Newport Beach, CA 92660 and our telephone number is (949) 524-4000. We lease our main office and substantially all of the properties on which we operate restaurants. We own 17 properties and operate restaurants on all of them. For additional information regarding the lease terms and provisions, see Note 1. “Description of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” and Note 10. “Leases” in our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”

ITEM 3.  LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

For information regarding legal proceedings, see Note 12. “Commitments and Contingencies” in our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”

ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES

Not applicable.

 

 

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PART II

ITEM 5.  MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED SHAREHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Our common stock trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “CMG.”

As of February 7, 2022, there were approximately 1,091 shareholders of record. This does not include persons whose stock is in nominee or “street name” accounts through brokers.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer

The table below reflects shares of common stock we repurchased during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Total Number of Shares Purchased

Average Price Paid Per Share

Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs(1)

Approximate Dollar Value of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs

October

27,172

$

1,811.91

27,172

$

160,558,269

Purchased 10/1 through 10/31

November

29,834

$

1,767.37

29,834

$

107,830,424

Purchased 11/1 through 11/30

December(2)

39,518

$

1,694.41

39,518

$

240,870,889

Purchased 12/1 through 12/31

Total

96,524

$

1,750.04

96,524

(1) Shares were repurchased pursuant to repurchase programs announced on July 20, 2021 and October 21, 2021.

(2) The December total includes an additional $200 million in authorized repurchases approved on December 7, 2021 and announced February 8, 2022. There is no expiration date for this program. The authorization to repurchase shares will end when we have repurchased the maximum amount of shares authorized, or we have determined to discontinue such repurchases.

Dividend Policy

We are not required to pay any dividends and have not declared or paid any cash dividends on our common stock. We intend to continue to retain earnings for use in the operation and expansion of our business and to repurchase shares of common stock (subject to market conditions), and therefore do not anticipate paying any cash dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future.


 

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COMPARISON OF CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN

The following graph compares the cumulative annual stockholders return on our common stock from December 31, 2016, through December 31, 2021, to that of the total return index for the S&P 500 and the S&P 500 Restaurants Index assuming an investment of $100 on December 31, 2016. In calculating total annual stockholder return, reinvestment of dividends, if any, is assumed. The indices are included for comparative purposes only. They do not necessarily reflect management’s opinion that such indices are an appropriate measure of the relative performance of our common stock. The values shown are neither indicative nor determinative of future performance. This graph is not “soliciting material,” is not deemed filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is not to be incorporated by reference in any of our filings under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in any such filing.

Chart, line chart, scatter chart

Description automatically generated

Company/Index

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

$

100

$

77

$

114

$

222

$

368

$

463

S&P 500

100

119

112

144

168

213

S&P 500 Restaurants

100

123

133

162

187

226

*$100 invested on December 31, 2016, in stock or index, including reinvestment of dividends.

Fiscal year ending December 31.

Source data: S&P Capital IQ

 


 

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ITEM 6.  RESERVED

ITEM 7.  MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

You should read the following discussion together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included in Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” This section of the Form 10-K generally discusses 2021 and 2020 items and year-to-year comparisons of 2021 to 2020. Discussions of 2019 items and year-to-year comparisons of 2020 and 2019 that are not included in this Form 10-K can be found in “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Part II, Item 7 on our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020. The discussion contains forward-looking statements involving risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause our results to differ materially from expectations. See “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements.” Factors that might cause such differences include those described in Item 1A. “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this report.

Overview

As of December 31, 2021, we operated 2,918 Chipotle restaurants throughout the United States, 44 international Chipotle restaurants, and four non-Chipotle restaurants. We manage our U.S. operations based on eight regions and have aggregated our operations to one reportable segment.

Throughout “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” we commonly discuss the following key operating metrics which we believe will drive our financial results and long-term growth model. We believe these metrics are useful to investors because management uses these metrics to assess the growth of our business and the effectiveness of our marketing and operational strategies:

Comparable restaurant sales

Restaurant operating costs as a percentage of total revenue

New restaurant openings

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected, and may continue to adversely affect, our operations and financial results for the foreseeable future. We continue to follow guidance from health officials in determining the appropriate restrictions to put in place for each restaurant. Our restaurant operations have been and could continue to be disrupted by COVID-19 related employee absences or due to changes in the availability and cost of labor. We remain in regular contact with our major suppliers and to date we have not experienced significant disruptions in our supply chain; however, we have experienced inflationary pressures in freight and the costs of some of our ingredients and temporary shortages in equipment and other goods, which could increase and/or spread to more categories as the impacts of COVID-19 continue across the global supply chain. We anticipate the restaurant wage increases implemented in June 2021 and any future wage increases in the U.S. along with increased supply chain costs, primarily related to inflationary pressures that began in the latter half of 2021 will have an impact on restaurant operating costs in 2022. However, these should be offset to some extent by benefits from pricing actions, leverage from revenue growth and supply chain initiatives.

2021 Financial Highlights

Sales Trends. Average restaurant sales were $2.641 million for the year ended December 31, 2021, an increase from $2.223 million for the year ended December 31, 2020. We define average restaurant sales as the average trailing 12-month food and beverage sales for restaurants in operation for at least 12 full calendar months.

Total revenue was $7.5 billion for the year ended December 31, 2021, an increase of 26.1% from $6.0 billion for the year ended December 31, 2020. The increase was attributable to comparable restaurant sales and, to a lesser extent, new restaurant openings. Comparable restaurant sales increased 19.3% for the year ended December 31, 2021, primarily due to a 10.3% increase in transactions and an 8.5% benefit from menu price increases implemented in late 2020 and during 2021. Comparable restaurant sales represent the change in period-over-period sales or transactions for restaurants in operation for at least 13 full calendar months.

Digital sales, which includes delivery and customer pick-up, were $3.4 billion for the year ended December 31, 2021, and represented 45.6% of total revenue compared to 46.2% of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2020. Higher volumes of in-store transactions in 2021 contributed to the decrease in digital sales as a percentage of total revenue. Order ahead sales were 50.9% and 49.9% of digital sales for the years ended December 31, 2021, and 2020, respectively.

During 2021, we completed several company initiatives which we believe contributed to sales growth. These initiatives included the launch of cauliflower rice in January 2021, digital launch of quesadillas in March 2021 and smoked brisket in September 2021. Additionally, in June 2021, we enhanced our loyalty program, Chipotle Rewards, by introducing new redemption options and personalized offers primarily targeted at new and at-risk customers.

 

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Restaurant Operating Costs. During the year ended December 31, 2021, our restaurant operating costs (food, beverage and packaging; labor; occupancy; and other operating costs) were 77.4% of total revenue, a decrease from 82.6% during the year ended December 31, 2020. The decrease was driven primarily by higher comparable restaurant sales, partially offset by wage inflation, higher commodity inflation primarily from freight and beef and, to a lesser extent, increased delivery fees.

Diluted Earnings Per Share. During the year ended December 31, 2021, our diluted earnings per share were $22.90, an 82.9% increase from $12.52 in 2020.

Restaurant Development. For the full year 2021, we opened 215 new restaurants, which included 174 restaurants with a Chipotlane. We expect to open approximately 235-250 new restaurants in 2022, including five to 10 relocations, of which we are targeting 80% with a Chipotlane.

Restaurant Activity

The following table details restaurant unit data for the years indicated.

Year ended December 31,

2021

2020

Beginning of period

2,768

2,622

Chipotle openings

215

160

Pizzeria Locale openings

-

1

Chipotle permanent closures

(10)

(9)

Chipotle relocations

(7)

(6)

Total restaurants at end of period

2,966

2,768

Results of Operations

Our results of operations as a percentage of total revenue and period-over-period change are discussed in the following section.

Revenue

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Food and beverage revenue

$

7,457.2

$

5,920.5

26.0%

Delivery service revenue

89.9

64.1

40.3%

Total revenue

$

7,547.1

$

5,984.6

26.1%

Average restaurant sales (1)

$

2.6

$

2.2

18.8%

Comparable restaurant sales increase

19.3%

1.8%

(1) Average restaurant sales refer to the average trailing 12-month food and beverage sales for restaurants in operation for at least 12 full calendar months.

The significant factors contributing to the total revenue increase for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, were comparable restaurant sales increases and new restaurant openings. Comparable restaurant sales increased $1,128.2 million and total revenue from restaurants not yet in the comparable base contributed $434.1 million to the total revenue increase, of which $201.9 million was due to restaurants opened in 2021.

Food, Beverage and Packaging Costs 

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Food, beverage and packaging

$

2,308.6

$

1,932.8

19.4%

As a percentage of total revenue

30.6%

32.3%

(1.7%)

Food, beverage and packaging costs decreased as a percentage of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to sales leverage from menu price increases. This decrease was partially offset by higher costs for freight and beef and, to a lesser extent, higher costs for avocados.

 

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Labor Costs

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Labor costs

$

1,917.8

$

1,593.0

20.4%

As a percentage of total revenue

25.4%

26.6%

(1.2%)

Labor costs decreased as a percentage of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to sales leverage and, to a lesser extent, lower COVID-19 related pay for restaurant employees. This decrease was partially offset primarily by wage inflation from increasing restaurant wages to a $15.00 national average hourly wage for our restaurant employees implemented across all restaurants by June 30, 2021.

Occupancy Costs 

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Occupancy costs

$

416.6

$

387.8

7.4%

As a percentage of total revenue

5.5%

6.5%

(1.0%)

Occupancy costs decreased as a percentage of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to sales leverage, partially offset by increased rent expense associated with new restaurants.

Other Operating Costs

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Other operating costs

$

1,197.1

$

1,030.0

16.2%

As a percentage of total revenue

15.9%

17.2%

(1.3%)

Other operating costs include, among other items, marketing and promotional costs, delivery expense, bank and credit card processing fees, restaurant utilities, and maintenance costs. Other operating costs decreased as a percentage of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to sales leverage and, to a lesser extent, lower marketing and promotional expense. These decreases were partially offset by higher delivery and technology expense.

General and Administrative Expenses

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

General and administrative expense

$

606.9

$

466.3

30.1%

As a percentage of total revenue

8.0%

7.8%

0.2%

General and administrative expenses increased in dollar terms for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to the following: a $92.8 million increase in stock-based compensation, primarily attributable to the December 2020 modification of 2018 performance awards related to COVID-19; a $23.2 million increase in outside services expense related to corporate initiatives; an $11.8 million increase in performance bonuses; and a $9.6 million increase in employee wages primarily due to headcount growth. These increases were partially offset by a $17.1 million decrease in estimated loss contingencies related to legal matters in 2021 compared to 2020.

 

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Depreciation and Amortization

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Depreciation and amortization

$

254.7

$

238.5

6.8%

As a percentage of total revenue

3.4%

4.0%

(0.6%)

Depreciation and amortization decreased as a percentage of total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to sales leverage.

Impairment, Closure Costs, and Asset Disposals

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Impairment, closure costs, and asset disposals

$

19.3

$

30.6

(36.9%)

As a percentage of total revenue

0.3%

0.5%

(0.2%)

Impairment, closure costs, and asset disposals decreased in dollar terms for the year ended December 31, 2021 compared to the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to a comparison against elevated impairments of operating lease assets and leasehold improvements in 2020. These elevated impairments in 2020 were primarily the result of the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacting our near-term restaurant level cash flow forecasts.

Benefit/(Provision) for Income Taxes

Year ended December 31,

Percentage

2021

2020

change

(dollars in millions)

Benefit/(Provision) for income taxes

$

(159.8)

$

62.0

n/m*

Effective income tax rate

19.7%

(21.1%)

n/m*

*Not meaningful

The effective income tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2021, was higher than the effective income tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2020, primarily due to comparing against the federal net operating loss for tax year 2020, which had a statutory federal income tax rate of 21%, that was carried back to tax years 2015-2017, which had a statutory federal income tax rate of 35%. There is a further increase in the effective income tax rate due to the proportionality of the excess tax benefits from equity vesting and exercises relative to profit before tax in each respective year. This was partially offset by a net reduction in the 2021 effective income tax rate primarily related to the write-off of uncertain tax positions reserves for the year ended December 31, 2021.

Quarterly Financial Data/Seasonality

Seasonal factors cause our profitability to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. Historically, our average daily restaurant sales and net income are lower in the first and fourth quarters due, in part, to the holiday season and because fewer people eat out during periods of inclement weather (the winter months) than during periods of mild or warm weather (the spring, summer and fall months). Other factors also have a seasonal effect on our results. For example, restaurants located near colleges and universities generally do more business during the academic year. Seasonal factors, however, might be moderated or outweighed by other factors that may influence our quarterly results, such as unexpected publicity impacting our business in a positive or negative way, worldwide health pandemics, fluctuations in food or packaging costs, or the timing of menu price increases or promotional activities and other marketing initiatives. The number of trading days in a quarter can also affect our results, although, on an overall annual basis, changes in trading days do not have a significant impact.

Our quarterly results are also affected by other factors such as the amount and timing of non-cash stock-based compensation expense and related tax rate impacts, litigation, settlement costs and related legal expenses, impairment charges and non-operating costs, timing of marketing or promotional expenses, the number and timing of new restaurants opened in a quarter, and closure of restaurants. New restaurants typically have higher operating costs following opening because of the expenses associated with their opening and operating inefficiencies in the months immediately following opening. Accordingly, results for a particular quarter are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for any other quarter or for any year.

 

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Liquidity and Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2021, we had a cash and marketable investments balance of $1.3 billion, excluding restricted cash of $30.9 million and non-marketable investments of $43.2 million. After funding the current operations in our restaurants and support centers, the first planned use of our cash flow from operations is to provide capital for the continued investment in new restaurant construction. In addition to continuing to invest in our restaurant expansion, we expect to utilize cash flow from operations to: repurchase additional shares of our common stock subject to market conditions; invest in, maintain, and refurbish our existing restaurants; and for general corporate purposes. As of December 31, 2021, $240.9 million remained available for repurchases of shares of our common stock, which includes the $200.0 million additional authorization approved by our Board of Directors and announced on February 8, 2022. Under the remaining repurchase authorizations, shares may be purchased in open market transactions, subject to market conditions. Additionally, as of December 31, 2021, we had $500.0 million of undrawn borrowing capacity under a line of credit facility.

We believe that cash from operations, together with our cash and investment balances, will be sufficient to meet ongoing capital expenditures, working capital requirements and other cash needs for the foreseeable future. Assuming no significant declines in comparable restaurant sales, we expect we will generate positive cash flow for the foreseeable future. Should our business deteriorate due to changing conditions, there are actions we can take to further conserve liquidity.

We have not required significant working capital because customers generally pay using cash or credit and debit cards and because our operations do not require significant receivables, nor do they require significant inventories due, in part, to our use of various fresh ingredients. In addition, we generally have the right to pay for the purchase of food, beverages and supplies sometime after the receipt of those items, within ten days, thereby reducing the need for incremental working capital to support our growth.

Our total capital expenditures for 2021 were $442.5 million. In 2021, we spent on average about $1.1 million in development and construction costs per new restaurant, or about $1.0 million net of landlord reimbursements of $0.1 million. In 2022, we expect to incur about $450 million in total capital expenditures. We expect approximately $260 million in capital expenditures related to our construction of new restaurants, before any reductions for landlord reimbursements. For new restaurants to be opened in 2022, we anticipate average development costs will remain consistent with 2021 due to a significant portion including Chipotlanes. We expect approximately $150 million in capital expenditures related to investments in existing restaurants including new equipment and hardware, technology to optimize efficiencies, remodeling and similar improvements. Finally, we expect a portion of our incurred capital expenditures to be for additional corporate initiatives including investments in technology for support centers to boost innovation, enhance the customer experience, and improve operations.

The following table summarizes current and long-term material cash requirements as of December 31, 2021, which we expect to fund primarily with operating cash flows:

Payments Due by Fiscal Year

Total

2022

2023-2024

2025-2026

Thereafter

(dollars in millions)

Operating leases(1)

$

5,066

$

366

$

785

$

752

$

3,163

Purchase obligations(2)

1,743

573

472

465

233

Deemed landlord financing(1)

2

-

1

1

-

Total

$

6,811

$

939

$

1,258

$

1,218

$

3,396

(1)See Note 10. “Leases” of our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” This includes commitments related to reasonably certain renewal periods.

(2)Purchase obligations include agreements to purchase goods or services that are enforceable and legally binding on us and that specify all significant terms. We have excluded agreements that are cancelable without penalty. The majority of our purchase obligations relate to amounts owed for produce and other ingredients and supplies, orders submitted for equipment for restaurants under construction and planned remodels, information technology, and marketing initiatives and corporate sponsorships.

The above table does not include income tax liabilities for uncertain tax positions for which we are not able to make a reasonably reliable estimate of the amount and period of related future payments. Additionally, we have excluded our estimated loss contingencies, due to uncertainty regarding the timing and amount of payment. See Note 12. “Commitments and Contingencies” of our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.”

 

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Critical Accounting Estimates

We describe our significant accounting policies in Note 1. “Description of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” of our consolidated financial statements included in Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” Critical accounting estimates are those that we believe are both significant and that require us to make difficult, subjective or complex judgments, often because we need to estimate the effect of inherently uncertain matters. We base our estimates and judgments on historical experiences and various other factors that we believe to be appropriate under the circumstances. Actual results may differ from these estimates, and we might obtain different estimates if we used different assumptions or factors.

Leases

We determine if a contract contains a lease at inception. Our material operating leases consist of restaurant locations and office space. Our leases generally have remaining terms of 1-20 years and most include options to extend the leases for additional 5-year periods. Generally, the lease term is the minimum of the noncancelable period of the lease or the lease term inclusive of reasonably certain renewal periods up to a term of 20 years. If the estimate of our reasonably certain lease term was changed, our depreciation and rent expense could differ materially.

Operating lease assets and liabilities are recognized at time of lease inception. Operating lease liabilities represent the present value of lease payments not yet paid. We made the policy election to combine lease and non-lease components, we also consider fixed common area maintenance (“CAM”) part of our fixed future lease payments. Fixed CAM is also included in our operating lease liability. Operating lease assets represent our right to use an underlying asset and are based upon the operating lease liabilities adjusted for prepayments, initial direct costs, lease incentives, and impairment of operating lease assets. To determine the present value of lease payments not yet paid, we estimate incremental borrowing rates corresponding to the reasonably certain lease term. As we have no outstanding debt nor committed credit facilities, secured or otherwise, we estimate this rate based on prevailing financial market conditions, comparable company and credit analysis, and management judgment. If the estimate of our incremental borrowing rate was changed, our operating lease assets and liabilities could differ materially.

Chipotle Rewards

Eligible customers who enroll in the Chipotle Rewards loyalty program generally earn points for every dollar spent. After accumulating the required number of points, the customer may select a reward. Earned rewards generally expire one to two months after they are issued, and points generally expire if an account is inactive for a period of six months.

The estimation of the standalone selling price of points and other rewards issued to customers involves several assumptions, primarily the estimated value of product for which the reward is expected to be redeemed and the probability that the points or reward will expire. Our estimate of points and other rewards we expect to be redeemed is based on historical company specific data. These inputs are subject to change over time due to factors such as menu price increases, changes in point redemption options and changes in customer behavior. Increasing our estimated ultimate redemption rate for estimated future redemptions by 100 basis points would have resulted in a reduction of food and beverage revenue on our consolidated statement of income of approximately $0.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2021.

Gift Cards

We sell gift cards, which do not have expiration dates, and we do not deduct non-usage fees from outstanding gift card balances. Gift card balances are initially recorded as unearned revenue. We recognize revenue from gift cards when the gift card is redeemed by the customer. Historically, the majority of gift cards are redeemed within one year. In addition, a portion of gift cards are not expected to be redeemed and will be recognized as breakage over time in proportion to gift card redemptions (“gift card breakage rate”). The gift card breakage rate is based on company and program specific information, including historical redemption patterns, and expected remittance to government agencies under unclaimed property laws, if applicable. We evaluate our gift card breakage rate estimate annually, or more frequently as circumstances warrant, and apply that rate to gift card redemptions. Decreasing our gift card breakage rate by 50 basis points would have resulted in a reduction of food and beverage revenue on our consolidated statement of income of approximately $5.1 million for the year ended December 31, 2021.

Impairment of Long-Lived Assets

Long-lived assets are reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable. For the purpose of reviewing restaurant assets to be held and used for potential impairment, assets are grouped together at the market level, or in the case of a potential relocation or closure, at the restaurant level. We manage our restaurants as a group with significant common costs and promotional activities; as such, an individual restaurant’s cash flows are not generally independent of the cash flows of others in a market.

 

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The fair value measurement for asset impairment is based on Level 3 inputs. We first compare the carrying value of the asset (or asset group, referred interchangeably throughout as asset) to the asset’s estimated future undiscounted cash flows. If the estimated undiscounted future cash flows are less than the carrying value of the asset, we determine if we have an impairment loss by comparing the carrying value of the asset to the asset's estimated fair value. The estimated fair value of the asset is generally determined using the income approach to measure the fair value, which is based on the present value of estimated future cash flows. Key inputs to the income approach for restaurant assets include the discount rate, projected revenue and expenses, and sublease income if we are closing the restaurant. In certain cases, management uses other market information, when available, to estimate the fair value of an asset. The impairment charges represent the excess of each asset’s carrying amount over its estimated fair value and are allocated among the long-lived asset or assets of the group.

Our estimates of future revenues and expenses are highly subjective judgments based on internal projections and knowledge of our operations, historical performance, and trends in sales and restaurant operating costs, and can be significantly impacted by changes in our business or economic conditions. The determination of asset fair value is also subject to significant judgment and utilizes valuation techniques including discounting estimated future cash flows and market-based analyses to determine fair value. If our estimates or underlying assumptions, including discount rate and sublease income change in the future, our operating results may be materially impacted.

Stock-based Compensation

We recognize compensation expense for equity awards over the requisite service period based on the award’s fair value. We use the Black-Scholes valuation model to determine the fair value of our stock-only stock appreciation rights (“SOSARs”), and we use the Monte Carlo simulation model to determine the fair value of stock awards that contain market conditions. Both of these models require assumptions to be made regarding our stock price volatility, the expected life of the award and expected dividend rates. The volatility and the expected life assumptions were based on our historical data. Similarly, the compensation expense of performance share awards is based in part on the estimated probability of achieving levels of performance associated with particular levels of payout for performance shares. We determine the probability of achievement of future levels of performance by comparing the relevant performance level with our internal estimates of future performance. Those estimates are based on a number of assumptions, including but not limited to growth in comparable restaurant sales and average restaurant level margin, and different assumptions may have resulted in different conclusions regarding the probability of achieving future levels of performance relevant to the payout levels for the awards. Had we arrived at different assumptions of stock price volatility or expected lives of our SOSARs, or if we changed our assumptions regarding the probability of achieving future levels of performance with respect to performance share awards, our stock-based compensation expense and results of operations may be materially different. As a result of changing our assumptions for the estimated payout of our various performance base awards during the year ended December 31, 2021 relative to these estimated payouts as of December 31, 2020, we incurred an additional $21.1 million of stock-based compensation expense during the year ended December 31, 2021.

Insurance Liability

We are self-insured for a significant portion of our employee health benefits programs. We carry significant retentions for risks and associated liabilities with respect to workers’ compensation, general liability, property and auto damage, employment practices liability, cyber liability and directors’ and officers’ liability. Predetermined loss limits have been arranged with third-party insurance companies to limit exposure to these claims. We record a liability that represents our estimated cost of claims incurred and unpaid as of the balance sheet date. Our estimated liability is not discounted and is based on a number of assumptions and factors, including historical trends, actuarial assumptions and economic conditions, and is closely monitored and adjusted when warranted by changing circumstances. If a greater amount of claims occurs compared to what we have estimated, or if medical costs increase beyond what we expected, our accrued liabilities might not be sufficient. Actual claims experience could also be more favorable than estimated. Unanticipated changes may produce materially different amounts of expense than that reported under these programs.

Reserves/Contingencies for Litigation and Other Matters

We are involved in various claims and legal actions that arise in the ordinary course of business. We record an accrual for legal contingencies when we determine that it is probable that we have incurred a liability and we can reasonably estimate the amount of the loss. Although we have recorded liabilities related to a number of legal actions, our estimates used to determine the amount of these liabilities may not be accurate, and there are other legal actions for which we have not recorded a liability. As a result, in the event legal actions for which we have not accrued a liability or for which our accrued liabilities are not accurate are resolved, such resolution may affect our operating results and cash flows.

 

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Income Taxes

Our benefit/(provision) for income taxes, deferred tax assets and liabilities and any related valuation allowance requires the use of estimates based on our management’s interpretation and application of complex tax laws and accounting guidance. We are primarily subject to income taxes in the United States. We establish reserves for uncertain tax positions for material, known tax exposures relating to deductions, transactions and other matters involving some uncertainty as to the measurement and recognition of the item. We may adjust these reserves when our judgment changes as a result of the evaluation of new information not previously available and will be reflected in the period in which the new information is available, or due to the expiration of any applicable statute of limitations. While we believe that our reserves are adequate, issues raised by a tax authority may be resolved at an amount different than the related reserve and could materially increase or decrease our income tax provision in future periods.

 

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ITEM 7A.  QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURE ABOUT MARKET RISK

Commodity Price Risks

We are exposed to commodity price risks. Many of the ingredients we use to prepare our food, as well as our packaging materials and utilities to run our restaurants, are ingredients or commodities that are affected by the price of other commodities, exchange rates, foreign demand, weather, seasonality, production, availability and other factors outside our control. We work closely with our suppliers and use a mix of forward pricing protocols under which we agree with our supplier on fixed prices for deliveries at some time in the future, fixed pricing protocols under which we agree on a fixed price with our supplier for the duration of that protocol, formula pricing protocols under which the prices we pay are based on a specified formula related to the prices of the goods, such as spot prices, and range forward protocols under which we agree on a price range for the duration of that protocol. Generally, our pricing protocols with suppliers can remain in effect for periods ranging from one to 24 months, depending on the outlook for prices of the particular ingredient. In some cases, we have minimum purchase obligations. We have tried to increase, where practical, the number of suppliers for our ingredients, which we believe can help mitigate pricing volatility, and we follow industry news, trade issues, exchange rates, foreign demand, weather, crises and other world events that may affect our ingredient prices. Increases in ingredient prices could adversely affect our results if we choose for competitive or other reasons not to increase menu prices at the same rate at which ingredient costs increase, or if menu price increases result in customer resistance. We also could experience shortages of key ingredients if our suppliers need to close or restrict operations due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak or, due to industry-wide shipping and freight delays.

Changing Interest Rates

We are exposed to interest rate risk through fluctuations of interest rates on our investments. As of December 31, 2021, we had $1.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents, current and long-term investments, and restricted cash, nearly all of which are interest bearing. Changes in interest rates affect the interest income we earn, and therefore impact our cash flows and results of operations.

Foreign Currency Exchange Risk