Chipotle to name a new CEO

Chipotle forms search committee to identify new CEO

Chipotle Mexican Grill spokesman Chris Arnold says the company is aware of a "small number" of illnesses linked to a store in Sterling, Virginia
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Chipotle Mexican Grill  (CMG) announced that Steve Ells, chairman and CEO — and the founder of the company in 1993 — will become executive chairman following the completion of a search to identify a new CEO.

The Board has formed a search committee comprised of Directors Robin Hickenlooper and Ali Namvar, as well as Ells, to identify a new leader with demonstrated turnaround expertise to help address the challenges facing the company, improve execution, build customer trust, and drive sales.

Ells said, “Simply put, we need to execute better to ensure our future success.

The Board and I are committed to bringing in an experienced leader with a passion for driving excellence across every aspect of our business, including the customer experience, operations, marketing, technology, food safety, and training.

Bringing in a new CEO is the right thing to do for all our stakeholders. It will allow me to focus on my strengths, which include bringing innovation to the way we source and prepare our food. It will ultimately improve our ability to provide our guests with delicious food that is prepared with high quality ingredients that are raised responsibly and served in a way that is accessible to everyone. I am confident that this will allow us to deliver value for our shareholders, and provide rewarding opportunities for our employees. Chipotle has vast unrealized potential.

As we work hard to restore our brand, I believe we can capitalize on opportunities, including in areas such as the digital experience, menu innovation, delivery, catering, and domestic and international expansion, to deliver significant growth.”

ANALYST COMMENTS

Chipotle CEO change to be welcomed by investors, says SunTrust – After Chipotle announced it has started a search to identify a new CEO and that founder Steve Ells will become executive chairman when one is identified, SunTrust analyst Jake Bartlett said he views the news as positive for both the company’s turnaround efforts and the stock as he expects investors to welcome a CEO with a proven operational track record. Bartlett has a Buy rating and $355 price target on Chipotle shares.

William Blair downgraded the stock to Market Perform from Outperform. William Blair analyst Sharon Zackfia downgraded Chipotle Mexican Grill to Market Perform . While a new leader may accelerate the company’s turnaround longer term, today’s move likely signals that Chipotle’s trends remain under pressure and creates more near-term uncertainty, Zackfia tells investors in a research note. The analyst adds that transition years, in which costs accelerate before sales trends rebound, often follow new CEOs. As such, she’s more cautious on Chipotle’s earnings recovery trajectory following today’s announcement. The market, on the other hand, is applauding the company’s decision.

CMG closed at $285.86. It last traded at $300 in pre-market action.


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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.

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