Chipotle sales beat forecasts

MEXICAN food chain Chipotle yesterday reported forecast-beating profit as sales continued to surge.

Sales rose 19.8 per cent at restaurants open at least a year for its third quarter.

While the US company expects comparable restaurant sales increases in the mid-teens for this year, it forecast that figure will dip to low to mid-single digit increases next year.

As a result of the lowered forecast, shares fell slightly after the bell.

The better-than-expected performance comes as traditional fast-food chains such as McDonald's and Burger King have struggled to boost sales in the U.S. Chipotle has sought to set itself apart by marketing its ingredients as being superior, including with its "Food with Integrity" slogan. People also like that they can walk down a line and dictate the toppings that go on their dishes.

In a statement, co-CEO Steve Ells said people are "realizing there are better alternatives to traditional fast food," a trend he said he expects to continue.

But the company doesn't expect to maintain the same level of momentum. Looking ahead to 2015, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said it expects sales at established locations to rise in the low- to mid-single digits.

Its shares fell 2.8 percent to $634.50 in after-hours trading. Shares of the Denver-based company have increased 22 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen 3 percent.