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Restaurants: Do Healthy Menus Mean Positive Financial Performance?
A Case Study of Chipotle Mexican Grill

An honors thesis presented to the
Department of Accounting,
University at Albany, State University of New York in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation from The Honors College.

Cara N. Veneziano

Research Advisor: Raymond K. Van Ness, Ph.D.

May, 2013

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to assess the consequences of offering healthy menus versus providing historically popular fast foods. Healthier foods are better for society and being able to understand how serving healthier menus will impact the financial performance of a company is crucial. I focus my attention on Chipotle Mexican Grill since it has been making a concerted effort to provide healthier foods. I have selected McDonald’s Corporation as a benchmark comparison. My specific investigative question is: Does a healthier menu translate into greater profits. My study begins with a comparison of Chipotle and McDonald’s meal options and ingredients in order to assess the overall health of their menus. This comparison revealed that Chipotle clearly had a healthier menu. Succeeding the menu comparisons, a financial analysis was performed on Chipotle and McDonald’s. The results of this study found that Chipotle, the healthier company, performed better in terms of Share Price, Stock Volatility, and Liquidity. The findings indicate that McDonald’s, the unhealthier firm, performed better in the areas of market capitalization, Return on Equity, Return on Assets, Return on Sales and Gross Margin. Following the results, there was a discussing of the findings and limitations and recommendations for future research were presented.

Acknowledgements
This thesis would not have been possible without the guidance and encouragement of a number of individuals. First and…...

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