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Shares of Chipotle slide on loss, sharp sales decline

Chipotle workers fill orders for customers at a restaurant in Miami.
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Chipotle Mexican Grill shares were lower after the fast food chain reported a 30 percent sales decline and its first quarterly loss ever.

Comparable restaurant sales plunged during the first quarter of 2016 in part due to promotional offers the company has been using to entice customers to return to its restaurants after an E. coli outbreak late last year.

Chipotle attributed its decline in sales to "a decrease in the number of transactions in our restaurants, and to a lesser extent by a decline in average check, including an impact from sales promotions."

Shares of Chipotle closed down more than 6.4 percent Wednesday.

A employee sprinkles cheese on a burrito at a Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Hollywood, California.
Chipotle giveaways may be key to recovery

Although Chipotle posted its first quarterly loss in history, it was smaller than analysts expected. The company saw a loss of 88 cents per share on revenue of $835 million. Analysts expected the company to report a loss of about 95 cents a share on $868 million in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

Chipotle co-CEO Steve Ells said in a statement that the company's "sales are on a gradual path to recovery."

"The best approach to re-building our business is to proudly serve safe and delicious food in our high-quality restaurants every single day, which is exactly what we will continue to do," said Ells.

The stock is down 36 percent in the last six months.

CMG in the last 6 months