Chipotle reports first-ever quarterly loss as same-store sales plunge In wake of food safety crisis

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s stock dropped in after-hours trading Tuesday after the Denver-based Tex-Mex food chain reported wider-than-expected losses for the first three months of the year. The company reported its first quarterly loss as a publicly traded company as it struggles to recover from a series of food-safety problems in several states in the last half of 2015.

“Our sales are on a gradual path to recovery,” Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, said in a statement Tuesday announcing first-quarter results. “The best approach to re-building our business is to proudly serve safe and delicious food in our high-quality restaurants every single day, which is exactly what we will continue to do.”

Chipotle posted a bottom-line loss of $26.43 million, or 88 cents per share, compared with a gain of $122.2 million, or $3.88 per share, in the same period last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had on average expected a loss of 86 cents per share. Revenue was lower than expected, too, at $834.5 million, the lowest since the third quarter of 2013, versus a consensus estimate of $868.5 million. The company generated $1.09 billion in sales in the same quarter last year.

Same-store sales, an important retail metric that excludes recently opened stores for a more accurate comparison to past performance, dropped 30 percent, larger than the 29 percent fall forecast by Nomura equity research.

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