Bearish Analysts, Options Traders Circle Chipotle Stock

Cowen analysts are calling for six-year lows for CMG stock

Managing Editor
Dec 29, 2017 at 9:56 AM
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If there's any stock that needs a fresh start in 2018, its Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG). For the past couple of years, the burrito chain has been battling constant backlash to a string of foodborne illness issues in its restaurants. Analysts are chiming in today, with Cowen and Company reiterating its "underperform" rating on CMG stock, and predicting lackluster fourth-quarter sales.

Cowen noted that the number of people performing Facebook check-ins at Chipotle restaurants dropped this week to its lowest levels of the fourth quarter. Further, the analyst reiterated expectations for 0% fourth-quarter comparable-store sales growth, as well as a $240 price target for CMG stock -- a roughly 18.5% discount to the equity's current price, and in territory not charted since 2011.

Chipotle stock is down 0.2% to trade at $294.44 this morning, and is on pace to shed 22% in 2017 -- which would mark its third straight year losing more than 20%. More recently, CMG has been struggling beneath the $330 level since August, and another illness report surfaced on Dec. 20, sending the shares back below their 80-day moving average.

Options traders continue to scoop up Chipotle puts at a rapid rate. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) reveals a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.91, topping 75% of readings from the past year, meaning put buying has been more popular than normal in the past two weeks. 

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