John Schnatter uses 2Q earnings slide to blast CEO Steve Ritchie

John Schnatter uses 2Q earnings slide to blast CEO Steve Ritchie
John Schnatter.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Papa John's founder John Schnatter used Tuesday's bleak earnings reveal to blast the company he founded more than 30 years ago.

The international pizza chain's share prices have fallen nearly 20 percent since Schnatter was accused in July of having used a racial slur on a conference call two months earlier.

The company reported that sales dropped 6 percent in the second quarter, and more than 10 percent in July alone.

Schnatter released a statement to media late Tuesday afternoon, that read in part:

"Today's results highlight the further deterioration of Papa John's financial performance under the tenure of Steve Ritchie, since he assumed CEO responsibilities in mid-2016.  Instead of addressing the real and fundamental issues confronting the Company since that time period, and taking actions to turn sales around, the Company is trying to deflect attention from the source of the problem — management's ongoing failures with regard to financial performance – and blame me for its problems."

Prior to the racial slur allegations, the company was still reeling from Schnatter's clumsy foray into the NFL's hotly-debated player protests of the Star-Spangled Banner. As a result, the league cut ties with Papa John's, triggering a drop in stock prices. Schnatter also addressed that matter in his statement:

"The Company's performance began to decline long prior to my comments about how NFL leadership was failing to resolve issues to the satisfaction of players and owners – and to be clear, my issue was always with the NFL leadership and not with the players who were protesting. Likewise, while the comments I made during the conference call with Laundry Service were seriously misrepresented, the actions taken by the Company in response have been misguided, heavy-handed and malicious, and have made the situation worse."

Shares closed Tuesday at $41.07, down from its 52-week high of $80.80. Papa John's shares reached their all-time high less than two years ago, priced at $89 in December 2016.

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