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Chipotle’s earnings call was a hot and spicy mess


Chipotle is still struggling.
Chipotle is still struggling.

Chipotle was all over the place on Tuesday.

During its third-quarter earnings call, the burrito chain tried to assuage concerns about its dwindling business in the aftermath of last year’s E. coli scare. And in the same call, Chipotle executives said the company would begin in earnest its push into pizza and burgers. And one executive apologized for getting caught with cocaine.

Chipotle exec Mark Crumpacker just apologized for getting busted for coke: “I’m sorry I caused a distraction for the company.” $CMG

— Alexander C. Kaufman (@AlexCKaufman) October 25, 2016

“We are earning back our customers’ trust, and our research demonstrates that people are feeling better about our brand, and the quality of our food. While this year has been a year of reinvestment, we are now focused on continuing to further recover sales and improve our economic model to create long-term shareholder value,” CEO Steve Ells said in a statement.

The company is still on a steep slide after health concerns over its food safety generated headlines – especially bad for a company that stresses its organic, locally sourced produce and meat.

Chipotle’s revenue was down 14.8 percent from this time in 2015, to $1 billion. The company’s comparable restaurant transactions decreased 15.2 percent, and comparable restaurant sales were down 21.9 percent.

Investors didn’t seem particularly convinced by the company’s road forward, sending shares down 3.4% in after-hours trading. The company’s value is down by more than one-third in the past 12 months.

The chain has suffered ever since E. coli sickened customers at locations across the country from late 2015 through February 2016.

But it’s not just E. Coli that’s continuing Chipotle’s woes. A rewards program intended to woo back customers hasn’t been as successful as hoped. And the company is abandoning expansion of its fast-casual Asian restaurant concept Shophouse, which has about a dozen locations concentrated in D.C. and California.

Chipotle is pulling the plug on Shophouse. Not delivering meaningful returns. Will focus on burgers and pizza as growth seeds instead $CMG

— Jeremy Bowman (@TMFBowman) October 25, 2016

Wow, Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells now talking up potential of selling “pizza and burgers” on earnings call

— Austin Carr (@AustinCarr) October 25, 2016

Instead, executives said, Chipotle will pursue burgers and pizza — like its fast-casual competitors. The chain is also testing two desserts, according to an Ad Age reporter.

On the tech side of things, Chipotle is also experimenting with using tablets to take orders.

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