February 1, 2018 / 2:01 PM / in 9 months

BUZZ-Chipotle dips as UBS downgrades to "sell" on growth concerns

** Chipotle dipping 3 pct to $314.99 premarket as UBS downgrades stock to “sell” from “neutral”

** Lead analyst Dennis Geiger says heightened competition, difficult industry environment and brand perception challenges highlight risks to sales and earnings growth

** Geiger points to continued decline in Chipotle online customer review scores to “historic lows” and “lackluster” review of recently launched “queso” product

** Writes that “CMG is facing a new normal rather than an ongoing recovery.”

** Cuts PT from $345 to $290; median PT $325

** Geiger rated 2 out of 5 stars by Thomson Reuters StarMine for recommendation performance on Chipotle

** Last week, William Blair analyst Sharon Zackfia, ranked in top fifth of analysts covering CMG (TR StarMine), warned Q4 could be hampered by cooling demand for “queso” and reports in Dec of illnesses at a California restaurant

** The restaurant chain, which has been struggling to recover from a string of food safety lapses that started in late 2015, saw its shares slip on Tues after a food poisoning rumor

** Chipotle scheduled to report Q4 results on Feb 6

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