Sonosite Ousts CFO, Brings Back Former Finance Chief Mike Schuh

10/15/08Follow @xconomy

Sonosite has ousted its chief financial officer, just a couple weeks before it is due to report third quarter earnings. The Bothell, WA-based maker of hand-carried ultrasound machines said that Bernard Pitz, 47, has left “at the request of the company” and is being replaced by his predecessor, Michael Schuh.

Sonosite (NASDAQ: SONO) didn’t give a reason for why Pitz was shown the door. But perhaps in a bid to calm any fears on Wall Street—which can get jumpy when CFOs get canned just before an earnings date—Sonosite said separately that its revenue grew 23 percent in the third quarter to $61 million. “The company expects to exceed consensus earnings estimates with strong cash flow,” Sonosite said in a statement.

Pitz’s tenure was brief. He joined the company in May. He was given an annual salary of $360,000, and was eligible for a target bonus of $270,000 under the company’s incentive plan, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was also given options on 160,000 shares of common stock, with one-fourth of them vest on his one-year anniversary. At the time, Sonosite said he had 26 years’ experience in global finance positions in telecommunications, software, wireless, and medical technologies. Before Sonosite, he had been CFO of Sybron Dental Specialties. The company said he has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a bachelor’s in accountancy from Northern Illinois University.

Schuh joined the company in 2000, and saw its revenues grow from $32 million a year to more than $200 million when he left that job. (Schuh never left the company, but switched to an executive role overseeing business process.) I’m going to have to keep an eye on the SEC filings to see what sort of severance package Pitz will end up getting, or if the company elaborates any more on why he was let go. An e-mail to company spokeswoman Anne Bugge wasn’t immediately returned. The company plans to report earnings after markets close on October 30, so we’ll surely hear more then.

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