Chipotle has a new CEO, but it will take more than that to save the struggling stock

Wall Street has fallen in love with Chipotle again.

Its stock surged on Valentine's Day after the burrito company named a new CEO that investors bet could engineer a real turnaround.

Piper Jaffray's Craig Johnson is not among the lovers, believing the stock chart tells the real story.

"It's good for a trade, but we need to see more evidence of a longer-term trend change starting to unfold," the senior technical strategist at Piper Jaffray told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Wednesday.

Chipotle's shares surged 15 percent on Wednesday in its best one-day performance since October 2013. The day's gains pushed its stock back into positive territory for 2018. However, that's after a steady decline over the past year. Shares are off 42 percent from a 52-week high set in May.

"It looks like to me that this is really just a relief rally that's starting to form," said Johnson. "You can go up another 7 percent just to get back to the 50-day [moving average] on this stock, and if you were to really reverse a long-term trend, you'd have to get above $400."

Chipotle shares have not seen the $400 level since mid-2017. At its peak in August 2015, Chipotle traded at $758.61. Shares would have to increase 162 percent to reach that level again.

Chipotle soared one day after the restaurant company named Brian Niccol as its new chief executive officer and board member. Niccol, who led Taco Bell's brand revival since 2011, will assume the position on March 5.

Michael Bapis, managing director at The Bapis Group at HighTower, shares the market's enthusiasm for Chipotle's new CEO and his ability to transform the company.

"If anyone can do it, this guy can do it," Bapis said during a Wednesday appearance on "Trading Nation." "He's had a history of being able to turn around companies, he's built numerous brands over the years and we're betting on that jockey, that he can turn around the stock."

Taco Bell's sales rose 7 percent in 2015, 2 percent in 2016, and 7 percent in 2017, the three years with Niccol as CEO of the fast-food chain. Chipotle's sales took a hit after a food safety scare in late 2015 sent traffic sharply lower. Its sales rose 10 percent in 2015, but fell 13 percent in 2016. Sales rebounded in 2017, climbing 15 percent.


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET). In addition, he contributes to CNBC and CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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