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Boulder Brands CEO exits, company lowers earnings estimates

Article-Boulder Brands CEO exits, company lowers earnings estimates

Boulder Brands CEO exits, company lowers earnings estimates
CEO and Co-founder Steve Hughes resigns as the company says its expecting a decline in sales.

Steve Hughes, co-founder and CEO of Boulder Brands, has resigned from his post and from the company’s board of directors. At the same time, the company says it's expecting second-quarter sales to drop as much as 7 percent from the same period last year.

“As Boulder Brands enters a new period of development, I believe now is the right time for a leadership transition,” Hughes said in a statement issued this morning. As the board searches for a new CEO, James Leighton, the company’s chief operating officer, will serve as interim CEO.

In that statement, the company also lowered its sales projections for the second quarter ending June 30. It expects sales to be between $122 million and $124 million—well below analyst expectations and a 5 to 7 percent decline from the second quarter of 2014—translating to adjusted earnings per diluted share of zero to two cents.

Boulder Brands is a heavy player in the gluten-free market, which is increasingly competitive as it's now become part of nearly every big food company’s marketing lexicon. But according to Boulder Brands' statement, the trouble comes from deep declines in its Balance segment, which comprises buttery spreads, grocery and milk products. The Smart Balance line went non-GMO last year in an attempt to meet consumer demand for more simple and natural ingredients, but that same demand is driving a comeback for real butter that might be getting in the way.

Sales in the company's Natural segment, which includes Udi’s, Glutino’s and Earth Balance, are expected to stay flat or rise slightly.

The news also comes on the heels of a series of class action lawsuits alleging that Boulder Brands officials misled investors on expected gross margins and withheld information about internal troubles with inventory, supply chain and integration of recent acquisitions.

The company’s stocks fell more than 20 percent early today and are down almost 50 percent from one year ago.

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