Chipotle's profit down sharply as it works on recovery

Markets Associated Press

This Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, photo shows the sign on a Chipotle restaurant in Pittsburgh. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. reports earnings Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (The Associated Press)

Chipotle reported a sharply lower quarterly profit from a year as it spends on promotional efforts to recover from a series of food scares.

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Sales still haven't bounced back, and were down 4.8 percent at established locations from a year ago. The Denver-based company reported its preliminary sales results released last month.

For 2017, Chipotle Mexican Grill said it expects sales to rise in the "high single digits" at established locations.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, it earned $15.98 million, or 55 cents per share. That was a penny less than analysts expected, according to FactSet. A year ago, it earned $67.87 million, or $2.17 per share.

Total sales were $1 billion, short of the $1.04 billion Wall Street expected.