Chipotle continues to prove a lucrative investment for the longtime stock picker, who remains one of the restaurant's largest stakeholders. The burrito chain buoyed Pershing's gross returns by 6.2 percent in 2018 and is up more than 38 percent this year.
Ackman, whose initial 2016 investment in Chipotle came at an average price of $405, helped bring aboard Brian Niccol as the company's CEO in March. The former Taco Bell executive has long championed innovation and outside-the-box thinking at his restaurants. Niccol has been pushing digital and marketing investments to bring the company back to consistent growth. Digital orders typically mean a higher check for restaurants, not to mention reducing in-store lines.
"Brian and his team have made significant progress turning around Chipotle and reaccelerating growth," Ackman wrote in Pershing Square's shareholder presentation. "Reigniting same-store sales growth is the key priority for 2019."
Ackman and his partners are seeing evidence of burgeoning comp sales. Same-store sales grew 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter, topping consensus expectations of 4.49 percent growth; profits also beat analyst expectations when it reported earnings on Feb. 6.