If history is any guide, then Jim Cramer thinks Chipotle could have a long way to go to restore investor confidence in its stock.
An e-coli outbreak caused November same-store sales to plunge an incredible 16 percent, and the negative publicity could prompt further declines of 8 to 11 percent this quarter.
But looking back in history, Cramer thinks it could be longer. The last big e-coli outbreak occurred with Taco Bell in 2006. The company saw a 5 percent decrease in same-store sales once onions were identified as the source of the outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) immediately pulled the onions from Taco Bell's menu, but until things were completely under control the stock had an additional 11 percent decline in the next quarter—followed by a 7 percent decline and a 6 percent decline in the two quarters following.
"These numbers from Chipotle are obviously much worse, which is a little surprising given the brand loyalty that Chipotle has versus Taco Bell, but it makes sense given the company's inability to get control over the situation," the "Mad Money" host said.
The CDC confirmed three additional states have been impacted by the outbreak: Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania, in addition to Washington, Oregon, California, New York and Ohio with new cases. That brought the total number to 52 people from 45. Meanwhile, a new case involving Boston College students surfaced late Monday, which sent the stock into a tailspin after hours.
To garner further feedback, Cramer polled his 917,000 followers on Twitter over the weekend on whether they would go to Chipotle following the news. The respondents were very much split down the middle, with 62 saying they would have gone to eat at Chipotle, and 65 saying they would stay away.
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What Cramer found most compelling was the passionate nature of the answers. People either love Chipotle and think the outbreak could have happened anywhere — or they think it's not worth catching the disease for a burrito.
"My view? Not all respondents are created equally," Cramer said.
One of those commentators was well-known restaurateur Danny Meyer, who confirmed his complete confidence in the product and team of Chipotle.
Ultimately, Cramer's job is not to decide if he wants to go to Chipotle, It is to analyze the stock.
"I think Chipotle will ultimately solve this problem, but when they do, you will still have to wait a couple of quarters to see a real turn, a la the much less loved Taco Bell," Cramer said. (Tweet This)
Investors tend to have a short memory, though. That means Cramer thinks the stock will once again be a great stock to own.
Yet right now it's too risky for him, mostly because with plummeting same-store sales, it's just too expensive.