Shares in Chipotle Mexican Grill dipped as much as 4 percent in extended trading Tuesday after it announced sliding same-store sales in March and issued weak guidance.
The fast-casual chain said Tuesday that it expects a loss of $1 per share or more for the first quarter. Just over a month ago, the company had projected break-even earnings for the period.
Chipotle saw comparable store sales drop 27.3 percent in the second week of March, it said in a filing Tuesday, after a Boston-area restaurant was closed when employees fell ill.
The latest outlook comes as the company mounts a recovery from a foodborne illness outbreak late last year. The Boston incident occurred just weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention closed an investigation that linked strains of E. coli back to the burrito chain.
Higher food safety costs have followed Chipotle into 2016 as it deals with “food waste, rejection rates related to high-resolution DNA testing and lower volumes,” the company said. Staffing, legal and marketing costs are also high as the Denver-based chain looks to close investigations and revamp its image.
But now Chipotle has a new executive in charge of food safety. James Marsden, previously a professor of food safety and security at Kansas State University, said Tuesday he would join Chipotle’s team.