saw a slowdown in its top line in the third quarter and announced the departure of its finance chief.

The San Jose, Calif., chipmaker announced Tuesday that CFO Robert Avery will retire in the first quarter of 2008, capping an 18-year tenure at the company.

The company described Avery's exit as a "planned" retirement and said it has commenced looking inside and outside the company for a replacement.

The move represents the latest change in Atmel's managerial ranks. Last year, Atmel's board fired CEO George Perlegos, along with a handful of other executives, for misuse of corporate travel funds. The company later also blamed Perlegos for much of the stock-option backdating that occurred at the company on his watch.

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In the three months ended Sept. 30, Atmel's revenue declined 3.2% year over year to $418.1 million, from $431.7 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for $413.8 million.

The company matched Wall Street's expectations on the bottom line with $16.5 million, or 3 cents a share. At this time last year, Atmel had net income of $124.2 million, or 25 cents a share, although that figure included a gain of $102 million, or 21 cents a share, from discontinued operations.

For the quarter CEO Steven Laub said the company experienced strong demand for its products in all geographic regions, and it achieved record sales of microcontrollers.

He pointed to the recent sale of a manufacturing facility in the U.K., as well as the sale of its network storage business, as evidence that Atmel is refocusing the company for profitable growth.

Looking ahead, Atmel projected that fourth-quarter revenue will be flat to up 2% sequentially, suggesting a range of $418.1 million to $426.5 million.

Analysts were looking for $423.4 million in revenue with EPS of 5 cents.

Atmel shares closed at $4.92, down 8 cents, or 1.6%, for the day.