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CFO at CEC out, smooth transition expected

Securities analysts Thursday were taking in stride CEC Entertainment Inc.’s announcement that Christopher D. Morris, chief financial officer to the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese’s, would leave his post July 16.

Morris has been CFO at CEC since January 2004, and was leaving “to pursue another business opportunity,” the company said. Morris also serves as company treasurer and executive vice president.

Michael H. Magusiak, CEC’s president and chief executive, said in a statement: “Chris has developed strong accounting, finance and MIS teams that have accomplished a great deal over the six and a half years that he has been with our company.”

Bob Derrington, a restaurant analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co., said in a research note Thursday that “management mentioned that Morris was leaving on good terms.” Derrington added that “there were no accounting issues” and Morris “leaves a strong team in his wake while the company searches for a replacement.”

The Irving, Texas-based CEC, which operates or franchises 546 Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants, is expected to report second-quarter results next month, and Derrington said a positive quarter is expected, with a projected same-store sales increase of 3.5 percent.

Brad Ludington, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., said a “smooth transition” in the CFO role was expected.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

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