Chipotle Mexican Grill stock briefly hit a record high Monday, signaling a return to fiscal health after a downward spiral that began four years ago amid widespread reports of foodborne illness across the burrito chain.
Chipotle traded at $759 a share for a period Monday, an all-time high, and a tremendous boost from a low of $255 in early 2018. The stock had previously peaked at $758 a share during midday trading in August 2015.
The Newport Beach, Calif.-based fast-casual chain began its turnaround in earnest with the hiring of former Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol as CEO in February 2018, replacing Chipotle’s fonder, Steve Ells.
Niccol has brought a new focus on technology and marketing to the chain to drive traffic, adding ordering kiosks, digital-order pickup areas and new menu items.
The company’s same-store sales rose 9.9% in the quarter ended March 31, with digital sales doubling during the period to 15.7% of total sales.
Traffic during the first quarter jumped 5.8%, showing that customers will respond when you “provide more convenient access with less friction,” Niccol said during a call with investors in April.
Chipotle leads the pack among the year’s best-performing restaurant stocks, with shares up 75%. Restaurant stocks as a whole are up 11% for the year, according to a Restaurant Businessanalysis.