Deutsche Bank downgraded shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill to a “sell” from a “hold” on Tuesday, citing a lack of faith in the company’s ability to recover after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks.
“We still question what a recovery will look like (and when it will materialize),” Deutsche Bank analysts said in a research note. They said that while management has been proactive in “trying to regain consistency and customer trust, there is tremendous uncertainty on how well they will be received.”
The bank’s analysts foresee a 24 percent drop in Chipotle’s stock price, a plunge to $400 from its Feb. 22 price of $525.90. Shares in the restaurant are down more than 22 percent in the past 12 months, even though the stock is up more than 8 percent since January.
Chipotle did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
The move comes just weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the fast-casual chain’s E. coli outbreak was over. Chipotle also faced outbreaks of norovirus and salmonella, resulting in at least nine lawsuits, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Chipotle’s same-store-sales trends had shown signs of weakness before its series of foodborne illness outbreaks, Deutsche Bank noted. The analysts blamed a lack of new menu introductions and price increases for the dip.
Deutsche Bank is the first firm to go to a “sell” rating, but this is not the first time Chipotle has been downgraded this year. A majority of analysts now rate the fast-casual chain’s stock as a “hold” when they previously had it at “buy.”