NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
One month after the departure of its embattled chairman, another executive is leaving Take Two Interactive Software. Jeff Lapin, CEO of the video game publisher, has resigned, the company announced Wednesday.
Take Two, which publishes the "Grand Theft Auto" series, also reduced its guidance for its second fiscal quarter and fiscal year, citing lower than expected sales and a delayed launch for key titles. The company now forecasts a second quarter net loss of 15 cents a share on sales of $170 million.
Less than a month ago, Take Two forecast a profit of 33 cents a share on sales of $220 million. For the fiscal year, the company said it is expecting a profit of $2 a share on sales of $1.17 billion, down from $2.45 per share on sales of $1.22 billion.
"Red Dead Revolver" has been pushed back to a May release date, while "The Warriors," based on the 1979 cult movie, has been bumped six months to the first quarter of fiscal 2005. "The Warriors" is being developed by the company's Rockstar division, which also develops all "Grand Theft Auto" games.
Lapin leaves the company just 15 months into his tenure as CEO. Wednesday's announcement, while not expected, was foreshadowed last month when the company amended his employment agreement. Under those revised terms, Lapin will continue to draw his annual salary, which last year was $542,500, and annual bonuses of at least $400,000 for the next 18 months.
"We ... believe that the loss of Jeff Lapin, an experienced industry veteran, should be viewed negatively," wrote Gary Cooper, an analyst for Banc of America Securities in a note. "However, we believe that most investors hold Take-Two for one reason: GTA: San Andreas."
"Take-Two will release GTA: San Andreas in October. San Andreas is widely anticipated to be largest game of the year, with the potential to sell over 10 million units worldwide," Cooper added. "As a result, we expect that any weakness in the shares as the result of this morning's announcement to be temporary."
In March, Take Two (TTWO: Research, Estimates) chairman and co-founder Ryan Brant resigned his position under heavy criticism. Brant is one of four employees who recently received a Wells notice from the SEC indicating they might face civil charges over alleged accounting violations. Brant remains with the company in the newly created role of vice president of publishing.
Richard Roedel, who replaced Bryant as chairman, will also serve as interim CEO, the company said.
Take Two's announcement is part of a larger shakeup in the gaming world's management structure. Acclaim (AKLM: Research, Estimates) president and chief operating officer Paul Eibeler has quietly left that publishing company after just 10 months to return to Take Two. He will once again serve as president and a director, a position he held from December 2000 through June 2003.
On Tuesday, Vivendi Universal Games announced its North American President and COO, Luc Vanhal, had left the company. VU Games CEO Bruce Hack will take over the positions on an interim basis.