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Chipotle exec sheds light on conversations with billionaire Bill Ackman

With talks between Chipotle Mexican Grill and hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman intensifying recently, Chipotle's CFO Jack Hartung shed light on the discussions to Jim Cramer on Wednesday.

"The dialogue we have had with Pershing has talked about driving long-term shareholder value. Talks about recovering the business model and from what they have said so far, they believe that Chipotle is a special brand we are going through a tough time right now," Hartung told the "Mad Money" host.

Ackman took a nearly 10 percent stake in the company two months ago, but did not disclose his strategy. Chipotle also recently hired a law firm, investment banks and public relations company to help engage with the billionaire.

"They want just like everyone else to see us recover our sales, recover our business. And if we do that we are going to get back to our stock price, and then add shareholder value from there."





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

All shareholders are aligned, and management has been disappointed with the amount of time that it has taken for the burrito chain to recover from various health scares that took down the stock last year, Hartung said.

While Hartung admitted that the goals for Chipotle are stretched for next year, he was confident that the company could achieve them. The goals were based on feedback from investors who expressed that they wanted clearer visibility into sales and margin trends, and an understanding of the earnings potential based on current sales levels.

Chipotle plans to deliver 20 percent margin and $10 of earnings per share by implementing efficiency on food and labor costs, normalizing promo costs and renegotiating contracts for supplies.

"They are not going to be easy targets, but we thought we owed it to our shareholders to put something out there in terms of what we can deliver," Hartung said.


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