Shares of chain restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) rose sharply higher Wednesday after the firm said late Tuesday that first quarter profit rose 56 percent on increased same-store sales, more customer visits and a higher full year outlook.

Chipotle rose $11.83, or 17.85 percent to close at $78.09 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Profits at the Denver-based McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) spin-off rose 56 percent to $12.4 million, or 38 cents per share. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 32 cents per share, according to a poll by Thompson Financial.

Revenue rose 26 percent to $236.1 million, topping analysts' average expectations of $227.9 million, according to Thomson Financial.

The company said the stronger quarter was boosted by a higher restaurant count, better performance across its existing stores and more customer visits.

Same-store sales, a key retail measure that tracks sales at restaurants open at least 13 months, rose 8.3 percent.

Our strong first quarter comparable restaurant sales increase, along with restaurant level margin expansion continue to demonstrate our ability to build customer loyalty while improving restaurant level profitability, said Jack Hartung, Chief Finance and Development Officer.

The company also raised its full-year outlook for its 2007 fiscal year, now expecting mid to high-single digit percentage growth in same-store restaurant sales, as well as opening 110 to 120 new stores.

We remain confident in our ability to grow diluted earnings per share at an average annual rate of at least 25% over the long-term.