Bourne indigestion: Jason Bourne novelist tanks Chipotle stock with one tweet

Chipotle stock down after tweet by Jason Bourne novelist
Chipotle stock down after tweet by Jason Bourne novelist

Despite Chipotle Mexican Grill's attempt to move on from a string of high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks, the company's stock moves Thursday show how fragile its reputation is at the moment.

The stock dipped as much as 3.4 percent in early morning trading following a tweet from Jason Bourne author Eric Van Lustbader that said his editor had been hospitalized after eating at a Chipotle in Manhattan.

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"We are aware of the post made on Twitter, however there have been no reports of illnesses at any of our New York restaurants," Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, told CNBC. "Moreover, we have excellent health department scores throughout the city, and we continue to have the highest standards of food safety in our restaurants."

After Chipotle released the statement, shares began to reverse themselves and were recently trading down $7.88, or 1.9 percent, at $392.44.

"Every time that something like that comes out, yes, it will affect the stock because it potentially impacts ... the recovery [in the] near term," Nick Setyan, a Wedbush analyst, told CNBC. "There is such a lack of visibility right now that every little thing is going to change that variable."

The illness Van Lustbader reported is unconfirmed at this time, however, other Twitter users have taken to the social media platform to share their experiences with New York Chipotle restaurants.

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The reported illness comes just a day after the company released a new short film showcasing its commitment to using quality, fresh ingredients and keeping a simple menu rather than resorting to slick deals and gimmicks. The campaign was Chipotle's first step away from its recent messaging around its food safety practices.

"A brand is really a cultural story. The current Chipotle 'story' is unfortunately highlighted by this issue, and they are doing everything possible to return the narrative to the much more positive place it was before," Austin McGhie, author of the book "Brand Is a Four Letter Word," told CNBC. "In the meantime, people are tentative and the slightest pebble thrown into the water can create quite a large ripple. Hence the stock price."

The company was hoping to gain a foothold in the market after first-quarter same-store sales plunged nearly 30 percent, contributing to a loss for that quarter — the first in its history.

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