Chipotle CFO: We bottomed in January

After two major health scares involving both E. coli and norovirus, despite falling more than 6 percent on Wednesday, Chipotle is making strides to come back.

Jim Cramer saw the same pattern in the past with other restaurants involved in outbreaks that the first few quarters are terrible, but then the numbers ultimately start to recover. According to Chipotle's CFO John Hartung, he agrees.

"All the customer research points to the fact that we are recovering in the minds of our customers. In most cases we had bottomed in January, and we have been recovering steadily ever since," Hartung said.

Chipotle workers fill orders for customers at a restaurant in Miami.
Getty Images
Chipotle workers fill orders for customers at a restaurant in Miami.

Hartung added that while he is disappointed that Chipotle is not further along, they are encouraged in the customer research that they are seeing.

Chipotle reported a weak quarter on Tuesday; however management did note that sales trends started recovering in the second half of the quarter.

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"We are always going to err on the side of making sure our customers are safe. And we will do that again, even though it might hurt us financially, because we think over time that is what is going to regain the trust of our customers," Hartung said.

The CFO also noted that research showed that during the health scares, customers that visited less often did not go to a direct competitor. Instead, money was spent somewhere else. That provided management with confidence that customer loyalty will be more likely to be kept in the long run.

"We can have our cake and eat it, too. We can serve these great ingredients, we can do all the cooking in the restaurants and we can ensure for our customers that our food will be safe. And so, we think we are charting new territory here," Hartung said.

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