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Hedge Fund Manager Ackman: Chipotle is ‘An Eminently Fixable Company’

Well-known hedge fund investor Bill Ackman is betting that troubled Mexican fast-food chain Chipotle is “an eminently fixable company”

Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, appeared on CNBC’s Halftime Report, where he was asked about Chipotle’s disappointing third-quarter earnings released on Oct. 24, in which profits, excluding certain costs, were significantly lower than analysts had expected.

“The short answer is go to the stores, there’s plenty—there are still long lines, people buying the product,” Ackman said. “The stores are still doing $2 million in revenue [per store per year, on average]. A $2 million revenue concept is a great concept. Now, they were doing $2.5 million, before they had their various issues, but I think the issues they have are all addressable through better operations and better oversight.”

Chipotle’s problems include multiple food safety incidents, which started in 2015. Earlier this year, a norovirus scare sent the company’s stock price tumbling.

Several panelists on Halftime Report—Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and Stephen Weiss Founder of Short Hills Capital—remain skeptical about Chipotle, given marketing costs and competition. Ackman, however, believes that the chain can rebound because Chipotle is one of the “least optimized of the quick service restaurants.” Adding things like a mobile app, online ordering, drive through windows, and breakfast items would help with a turnaround.

Pershing Square Capital bought a large stake in Chipotle in September 2016. As of the end of June, Pershing owned 2.9 million shares, or 10.2% of the company, CNBC said, citing FactSet.

Following the earning’s report at the end of October, Chipotle’s stock dipped to a five-year low.

Correction, Nov. 9, 2017: An earlier version of this article misstated Bill Ackman’s comments about Chipotle’s average per store revenue. He said individual stores average $2 million in annual sales, not daily sales.