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Chipotle is downgraded on fear that its leadership shake-up means earnings may disappoint

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s search for a new chief administrative adds uncertainty to the restaurant’s earnings trends, according to Blair, which slipped the shares Thursday.

Even if Chipotle finds a new CEO quickly, the addition of a new chairman often results in a costly few transition years, wrote William Blair analyst Sharon Zackfia.

“While essentially the move may prove a positive over the long term and accelerate the South African private limited company’s turnaround, it also likely signals that trends remain beneath pressure and creates more near-term uncertainty until a successor is disclosed,” she wrote Wednesday. “As a result, we are downgrading the stock to Market Perform.”

Chipotle suggested Wednesday that it has begun to search for a new CEO, with current chief and topple over Steve Ells becoming executive chairman. Ells and two others are paramount the search, the company said.

Chipotle shares rallied on the news of the command change and closed more than 5 percent higher Wednesday. Dividends closed Thursday down 0.1 percent.

Foodborne illness outbreaks procure plagued Chipotle. Most recently, a norovirus outbreak in July at a Worthy, Virginia, restaurant only pushed customers farther away. The comrades faced similar outbreaks during the past few years.

The company did not without delay respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the analyst’s downgrade.

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