Did a Single Tweet Cause a $400 Million Drop in Chipotle’s Value?
Think one man can’t make a difference? Tell that to Chipotle. It appears that a single tweet may have sent the Mexican chain’s stock tumbling over ten points.
Yesterday at 8:20 am, best-selling author Eric Van Lustbader took it upon himself to post this tidbit to Twitter: “This Chipotle thing is still ongoing,” he tweeted. “My editor ended up in urgent care after being deathly ill all night from eating at Chipotle's.”
This Chipotle thing is still ongoing. My editor ended up in urgent care after being deathly ill all night from eating at Chipotle's.
— Eric Van Lustbader (@EVanLustbader) July 7, 2016
Though the impact on the Twittersphere was relatively minimal – even as of now, the posting only has a few dozen retweets – Lustbader’s words may have caused a larger financial impact than any book he’s ever has published. When the market opened about an hour later, Chipotle’s stock immediately tumbled about 3.5 percent. For a company with an $11.5 billion market cap, that’s a $400 million swing.
For his part, Van Lustbader later claimed on the social media site that he “never thought abt [sic] the stock, just my friend's health.” This came after some fellow twitterers went so far as to accuse him of deliberately trying sink stock prices for his own financial gain. An accusation that doesn’t seem to have any basis.
In response, the seemingly always busy Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told Business Insider yesterday, “We are aware of the post made on Twitter, however there have been no reports of illnesses at any of our New York restaurants. Moreover, we have excellent health department scores throughout the city, and we continue to have the highest standards of food safety in our restaurants.”
As of today, Chipotle’s stock looks to have regained its pre Van Lustbader-tweet value. But what may be the wildest part of this story is that, even as of writing, Lustbader only has 3,769 followers on Twitter. For the sake of the entire stock market, let’s hope one of Taylor Swift’s friends never gets food poisoning.