Chipotle Mexican Grill is having a moment — a positive one for a change.
After naming a new chief executive — Brian Niccol, the former CEO of Taco Bell — the burrito chain’s shares rose 15 percent on Wednesday to $289.91.
It marked the highest single-day spike in Chipotle’s shares in more than four years.
Investors overwhelmingly approved of Niccol — but were cautiously optimistic about his ability to fix a broken brand that has not fully recovered since a series of food-borne illnesses wreaked havoc on the company in 2015.
Among their biggest concerns is whether founder Steve Ells, who will step aside as CEO next month but remain as executive chairman, will get out of Niccol’s way.
“When the founder is still around and he’s the chairman, that’s an uphill battle,” Mizuho Securities analyst Jeremy Scott told The Post.
Niccol, 43, is credited with reinvigorating Taco Bell, in part by introducing popular menu items like Doritos Locos Tacos, a breakfast menu and mobile ordering across the franchise’s 7,000 locations.
“He has all the right credentials,” said Hedgeye Risk analyst Howard Penney, who had a short position on Chipotle until November — when Ells said he was stepping aside.
Ells is likely not the only management change, say industry experts.
“I’d expect executive replacements over the next four months,” said Jason Schloetzer, who specializes in corporate governance at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “Chipotle doesn’t have another year to muddle around for change to occur.”
Some are hoping Niccol speeds up the pace of menu development, adding breakfast, other new items and loyalty programs while also wooing back some of the younger customers who left the chain over the past couple of years.
“Niccol needs to challenge the heritage thinking that has paralyzed this brand for two years,” Scott said.