February 3, 2021

Chipotle’s Super Bowl Ad: Burritos + Sustainability

by Jharonne Martis.

The Super Bowl television broadcast traditionally includes high-profile, creative ads from major American companies. Nearly half of Americans (47%) say they look forward to the ads and consider them an integral part of the Super Bowl experience, Refinitiv discovered in a collaboration with Maru/Blue Public Opinion, a panel and data service insight firm.

This year, Chipotle will introduce its first Super Bowl commercial, titled “Can a Burrito Change the World?” The ad focuses on making sustainable change to the way the food industry operates, tapping into consumers’ current focus on health and sustainability.

In a release, Chipotle said, “The company believes the global pandemic has shifted consumer behavior to lean towards a community-focused society, further igniting a passion inside of many for making purchasing decisions that drive difference in the world around them.” (Source: Investor Relations Chipotle, Jan 25, 2021)

However, shareholders might ask whether this fast-casual restaurant chain can realize a decent return on the estimated $5 million price for 30 seconds of airtime.

In an attempt to answer that question, we look at Chipotle’s revenue estimates for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021, the first quarter in which it is a Super Bowl advertiser. Here’s what we found: the needle is indeed expected to move in the right direction (Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1: Chipotle Sales Results/Estimates 2019 – 2021

Source: Refinitiv I/B/E/S

Extra points

Moreover, the StarMine SmartEstimate data shows investors can expect positive surprises from Chipotle in Q1 2021. The SmartEstimate is a weighted average of analyst estimates, with more weight given to more recent estimates and more accurate analysts. Our studies have shown that when the SmartEstimate differs from the consensus (I/B/E/S mean) by more than 2%, the company is likely to post subsequent earnings surprises directionally correct 70% of the time. This percentage difference is referred to as the Predicted Surprise (PS%). For Chipotle, the PS% is 5.39%.

The restaurant has an EPS mean forecast of $4.73 a share for Q1 2021. However, there’s a five-star rated analyst with a very accurate rating that published a Bold Estimate, which is different (in this case higher) than the consensus estimate. The analyst expects Chipotle to report earnings of $6.25 a share, well above the mean.

Exhibit 2: Chipotle StarMine SmartEstimate Q1 2021

Source: Refinitiv I/B/E/S.

For investors pondering balance-sheet risk issues, StarMine’s Combined Credit Risk (CCR) Model suggests that Chipotle’s risk of running into any credit distress is minimal. On this model — which is the most comprehensive StarMine Credit model — Chipotle score is in the top decile, with a 95 out of a possible 100 score. This score corresponds to implied credit ratings of AA-, suggesting it is financially stable.

Exhibit 3: Chipotle StarMine Model Scores

Source:Refinitiv I/B/E/S.

It looks like Chipotle might be well positioned for the future. Earnings are expected to grow in the high single digits for the remainder of the year. The StarMine Earnings Quality model, Chipotle scores 83 out of a possible 100. Its high score suggests that profits could be from sustainable sources. The company’s cash flow component also looks robust.

Exhibit 4. Chipotle Earnings Quality StarMine Model Score

Source:Refinitiv I/B/E/S

Watching at home

In pre-COVID days, a sizable portion of the Super Bowl audience watched the game in bars. This year, however, 92% of the survey respondents say they will watch the Super Bowl at home, alone, with family members or a few friends. This survey also shows that only one percent of the respondents plan to go to a restaurant where others will be attending to watch the game (Exhibit 5). Refinitiv discovered this in a collaboration with Maru/Blue Public Opinion. The findings and detailed tables can be found here: https://www.marublue.com/american-polls.

Exhibit 5. How Americans Intend to Watch the Super Bowl

Source:Maru/Blue Public Opinion Survey

During the pandemic, the stay-at-home experience has boosted Chipotle’s digital sales by 177.2% in Q4 2020 alone.


Given the stock’s strong price performance and fairly lofty valuation, Chipotle’s shareholders should hope that the company’s sustainability message results in more burrito sales – and that the Super Bowl ad scores a touchdown.

Finally, of those who intend to watch the Super Bowl, the majority believe that the Kansas City Chiefs will win.

Exhibit 6: Predicting the Super Bowl Winner

Source: Maru/Blue Public Opinion Survey


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