Shares of

Red Hat

(RHAT)

plummeted after hours Monday on news that the company's CFO has resigned "to pursue other interests."

In recent postclose trading, shares of the Linux software vendor were off $2.86, or 11.8%, to $21.44; the stock lost $1.36, or 5%, to close at $24.30 during the regular session.

The abrupt resignation, coming just three days before the company is scheduled to report fiscal 2005 first-quarter earnings, puzzled Wall Street. "Everyone hates uncertainty. Why wouldn't they wait until earnings? This puts even more of a spotlight on Thursday's report," one analyst said during an informal conversation.

In a prepared statement, the company said: "Kevin Thompson, is resigning from the company to pursue other interests. Thompson is expected to continue in his role as CFO, while the search for his successor is completed, to help provide for a smooth transition."