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Chipotle gets some good news for a change

chipotle orlando exterior

Nearly half the Chipotle customers who stopped eating the chain’s food because of safety concerns say they’ll likely give the chain another chance, though their timeframe is unclear, a new survey reveals.

Still, the data indicates that about 10 percent of former patrons have sworn off the food forever, and that 37 percent of all consumers say their perception of the concept has worsened. In particular, their confidence in the food’s healthfulness has ebbed, the canvass found. About a third of the respondents regard the food as healthful, down from the 44 percent of consumers who gave that rating in a June 2015 study.

Last month’s survey was conducted by Joseph Buckley, the restaurant analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The findings figured into Buckley’s slight upgrade of Chipotle’s prospects on the stock market.

The survey of 1,000 consumers revealed the biggest bounce in Chipotle’s comeback would come from the avoidance of any other food-safety-related problems.

Overall, 46 percent of respondents who knew of the food contaminations and had eaten at a Chipotle in the past year are willing to give the chain another chance, Buckley reported. About a third of respondents said they had not decreased their visits because of the E.coli and norovirus contaminations.

The results were revealed this morning, amid expectations that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would pronounce Chipotle’s E.coli outbreak to be officially over.

Chipotle will disclose its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2015 tomorrow. It has warned that its comparable-store sales for the period could show a year-over-year decline of more than 20 percent.

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