Can Chipotle keep momentum with quesadillas and milkshakes?
It's all part of Chipotle's plan to woo customers back after a series of health scares at the company's restaurants during the past few years -- most notably an E.coli outbreak in late 2015 that made 60 customers in 14 states sick.
So far, it looks like people are willing to forgive and forget. Chipotle's sales have rebounded in the past few quarters. And Wall Street is thrilled. Chipotle shares are up nearly 65% this year.
Can the comeback continue? CEO Brian Niccol, who joined Chipotle in March following a three-year stint as the CEO of Taco Bell, is pushing new menu offerings as a way to keep the momentum going.
Chipotle unveiled quesadillas, avocado tostadas, nachos, a new spring salad and a classic Mexican chocolate milkshake during an event in its New York City test kitchen Thursday.
Fans of Chipotle's secret menu know that nachos and quesadillas are already something that you can get from some locations. Chipotle admitted as much, saying in the presentation for Thursday's event that both are among the top requested menu items.
Chipotle also has high hopes for the avocado tostadas, dubbing them "the Chipotle version of avocado toast." Chipotle said its customer research showed Millennials snack a lot midday. (Who doesn't though? This Gen X-er does too for what it's worth.)
And Chipotle also showcased a frozen paloma -- a slushy version of a margarita-like cocktail that is made with the Sauza brand of tequila.
Still, it's not clear when any of these items will make it to Chipotle's menu permanently.
A spokesperson for the company told CNNMoney that quesadillas, nachos and other offerings are currently just being tested at the company's NEXT test kitchen and that "there is no guarantee that they will be rolled out to all locations."
But it seems like Chipotle needs new menu choices beyond its trademark burrito bowls to make sure its customers keep coming back for more, especially since its highly touted queso offering has been panned by many.
The company is also still a far cry from where it was during its glory days before the E.coli crisis. Shares now trade at around $470 -- nearly 40% below the all-time high of about $760 back in August 2015.
Chipotle, along with other chains like Panera and Shake Shack, was heralded back then as a leader of the so-called fast casual restaurant revolution.
It was serving up food that was supposed to taste better (and be better for you) than what you might get from fast food joints like McDonald's, Burger King and the Yum Brands-owned triumvirate of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.
But shares of Chipotle plunged to a multi-year low of $263 a share by last November. Founder Steve Ells stepped down as CEO that month.
So the resurgence in sales and the stock price since Niccol came aboard is encouraging. Wall Street remains skeptical though.
Twenty-two analysts have Chipotle rated a hold. Two even are recommending that investors sell the stock. Only eight have a buy in it. And the consensus target price for the stock is $394.21 -- 16% below its current price.
But investors -- and consumers -- should get more answers about what's next for Chipotle very soon. The company is hosting a special conference call next Wednesday (June 27) after the market closes.
OPEC strikes deal to increase oil production
Members of the cartel emerged from a summit on Friday with an agreement to boost crude oil production.
The deal announced at a press conference in Vienna is aimed at easing fears of a global supply crunch and helping to bring down prices that had spiked by as much as 20% this year.
Suhail Mohammed Faraj Al Mazrouei, the current head of OPEC and energy minister of the United Arab Emirates, said the group would increase its output to the maximum allowed under the terms of a production agreement struck in 2016.
The goal of the 2016 agreement between OPEC and other major producers, including Russia, was to slash output in order to support prices and rid markets of excess supply.
But production has dipped more than expected thanks to factors including outages in Venezuela. With demand on the rise, global markets are facing a potential supply crunch.
Al Mazrouei said that OPEC and its allies would now work to boost production by up to 1 million barrels a day. But some cartel members will struggle to increase their output.
Nigerian Energy Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said that supply was ultimately likely to increase by 600,000 to 700,000 barrels a day.
OPEC did not say which of its members would supply the additional crude, which should start to flow into the market in July.
"It was deliberate ambiguity," said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.
Some investors were expecting more from OPEC, and US crude futures spiked 3.5% to $67.80.
"I don't think it's enough," said Cornelia Meyer, an energy analyst and CEO of MRL Corporation. She said OPEC ministers had acted as "their own worst enemies" by warning this week of a potential shortage of around 2 million barrels per day in the second half of 2018.
The Saudi oil minister said in an interview with CNNMoney on Thursday that there could be "a deficit in the second half of this year of 1.6 to 1.8 million barrels."
President Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted OPEC in recent weeks for a spike in oil prices that threatens to slow America's cruising economy.
He weighed in again on Friday.
"Hope OPEC will increase output substantially. Need to keep prices down!" he said in a tweet.
On Saturday, OPEC will discuss output changes with the 10 other allied countries that signed the 2016 agreement. Russia is biggest producer of the bunch.
Take that, America. Europe's tariffs take effect
The European Union has imposed additional tariffs of 25% on products such as motorcycles, orange juice, bourbon, peanut butter, cigarettes and denim - part of its response to the Trump administration's tariffs on steel and aluminum exports from Europe.
"The trade that we believe in is built on rules, trust, reliable partnership. The United States decision to impose targets on Europe goes against that, in fact it goes against all logic and history," European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday.
"Our response must be clear but measured," he added during a speech to the Irish parliament.
EU trade officials have described the US tariffs on steel and aluminum - justified by the Trump administration on grounds of national security -- as "illegal."
The bloc has also filed a formal complaint at the World Trade Organization.
The initial wave of EU retaliatory tariffs is aimed at American goods worth €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion). If the trade dispute continues or is not resolved by the WTO, the European Union could target a second batch of American exports worth around €3.7 billion ($4.3 billion).
That list includes roughly 160 products such as US sunbeds, paper towels, corduroy pants and porcelain tableware.
President Donald Trump fired back immediately, repeating his threat to impose tariffs on European car exports to the United States.
"Based on the Tariffs and Trade Barriers long placed on the U.S. and it great companies and workers by the European Union, if these Tariffs and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed, we will be placing a 20% Tariff on all of their cars coming into the U.S." he wrote on Twitter. "Build them here!" he declared.
Last month, Trump instructed his Commerce Department to begin a national security investigation that would provide the legal underpinning for new tariffs on cars.
A transatlantic trade battle could open a second front in a global trade war, with much at stake: The United States and the European Union trade just over €1 trillion ($1.2 trillion) in goods and services each year.
The EU tariffs came into force just a week after China accused the United States of starting a trade war.
President Donald Trump has threatened to hit $200 billion in Chinese exports with tariffs, in addition to goods worth $50 billion the US has already targeted. Beijing will respond in kind.
American tariffs on steel and aluminum have also hit Canada, Mexico, India, Turkey and China. All five countries have already announced retaliatory measures.
Earlier this month, Mexico imposed a series of tariffs on $3 billion worth of US exports of pork, apples, potatoes, bourbon as well as different types of cheese.
Canada said its tariffs of up to 25% on nearly $13 billion of American products will take effect on July 1.
India confirmed this week it would impose retaliatory tariffs on a range of American goods, including apples, walnuts and some chemical and metal products, from August 4.
Turkey said Thursday that it's imposing tariffs worth $267 million on US goods, targeting items such as coal, paper, walnuts, tobacco, rice, whiskey and cars.