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Chipotle shares fall in pre-market trading as U.S. government probe widens

The company said this week that the U.S. Attorney General's office has asked for three years of information about its safety practices.

By Ed Adamczyk
Chipotle shares fall in pre-market trading as U.S. government probe widens
Stock in Chipotle Mexican Grill, inc. fell in pre-market trading Wednesday after a weak earnings report. Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com

DENVER, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- A weak earnings reported prompted a 6 percent decline in stocks of Chipotle Mexican Grill in pre-market trading on Wednesday.

Although it posted earnings of $2.17 per share, higher than the expected $1.85 per share, its stock price opened at $459.70 Wednesday, down from $475 Tuesday, and continued to fall Wednesday morning.

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The Denver-based company revealed that federal prosecutors are seeking three years of information on food safety and that it is cooperating with the probe. An E.coli outbreak at a number of its locations sickened several dozen customers and sales fell 14.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

"The fourth quarter of 2015 was the most challenging period in Chipotle's history, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now concluded its investigation into the recent E. coli incidents associated with Chipotle," the company wrote in a statement on Wednesday. "On January 28, 2016, Chipotle was served with a subpoena broadening the scope of the previously-announced criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of California. The new subpoena requires us to produce documents and information related to company-wide food safety matters dating back to January 1, 2013." a company statement

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The statement also said the company will begin "inviting customers back" with increased marketing beginning later in February.

Chipotle previously announced changes in its preparation of fresh ingredients of its food to ensure food safety, including chopping tomatoes and lettuce in a centralized location, and blanching of onions to kill germs.

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