Net income in the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, was $176,253,000, equal to $6.19 per share on the common stock, up sharply from $22,938,000, or $.078, in the prior year. Revenue totaled $4,476,412,000, up 15 percent from $3,904,384,000.
In the fourth quarter, the company earned $43,793,000, or $1.56 per share, an increase over $15,975,000, or $0.55, on revenue of $1,110,100,000, up 7 percent from $1,034,560,000.
“The past couple of years have presented a set of challenges, but I know that the changes we have made are the right ones to help us move toward achieving our full potential,” Ells said during a Feb. 6 earnings call. “We will continue to focus on our long-term success, and we’ll continue to fight to preserve things that make Chipotle special.”
Ells, who founded Chipotle Mexican Grill in 1993, is set to step down from his role as CEO and will become executive chairman once a successor is named. A search for his replacement is underway.
The company continues to struggle to recover from a foodborne illness outbreak in 2015 that included 55 cases of E. coli O26 across 11 states followed by a norovirus outbreak at a Boston-based restaurant that reportedly sickened 80 individuals.
Chipotle’s turnaround efforts have been met with tepid response. Introductions of chorizo and queso, operational improvements and a new loyalty program, among other initiatives, have not been enough to restore customer traffic at the chain to pre-food safety crisis levels.
“Despite a challenging year, we feel that we have a lot of momentum and energy throughout the company heading into 2018,” said John R. Hartung, CFO. “We’re more committed than ever to continue to perfect our dining experience and to build our sales. The investments that we’re making in our people and to growing our digital and catering business and investing in new innovation will not only help set up the foundation for a successful 2018 but also for the next 25 years.”