Papa John's finance chief to depart after almost 20 years

Papa John’s Chief Financial Officer Joe Smith is leaving the pizza chain after almost 20 years.

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Smith had held his current role since April 2018, and CEO Rob Lynch praised his "dedication to the company, his commitment to a smooth transition and the big impact he has made in the many important roles he has served here." Chief operating and growth officer Mike Nettles and chief marketing officer Karlin Linhardt will also exit following a transition period, the pizza chain said.

The departures weren't all well received by one of the company's best-known investors: Founder and former CEO John Schnatter. He says the shifts show the new management team is "reacting" and "not being proactive."

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"Joe Smith is a really, really good CFO and he's got total integrity," Schnatter told FOX Business in an exclusive interview. "But Joe's not a spin artist. He's not a smoke-and-mirrors, he's not a bells-and-whistles, guy. He's a straight-shooter."

Schnatter said Linhardt was only at Papa John's for a couple of months and disagreed with Lynch and Board Chairman Jeff Smith, whom he described as "tyrants" unwilling to tolerate differences of opinion.

Schnatter recently sold a large slice of his own stock in the company that bears his name, predicting that the shares will lose value. Papa John's lost 10 cents a share in the third quarter, worse than the 3-cent loss analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting.

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Revenue of $403.7 million, however, topped estimates of $385 million.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 21 cents per diluted share, just missing the 22 cents that was expected. Net income was $385,000. The net loss including payment of preferred dividends was $3.09 million.

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Sales at North American pizzerias open at least a year rose 1 percent, Papa John's said. “We are very pleased to have positive comparable sales in North America for the first time in two years,” Lynch said in the statement.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.