GLENDALE, Calif. – Julia Stewart, chairman and CEO of DineEquity Inc. will resign from the company effective March 1. DineEquity is the parent company of IHOP and Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurants.

Richard Dahl, current lead director of the DineEquity board, was selected to serve as interim chairman and CEO until a replacement is found. As a result of Dahl’s changing role, the board appointed Caroline Nahas to lead director and Douglas Pasquale to succeed Dahl as chairman of the audit and finance committee. The board of directors plans to separate the chairman and CEO roles upon completion of the CEO search, the company said.

“I am honored to have led this extraordinary global company through significant periods of growth and transformation over the last 16 years,” Stewart said in a statement. “It has been a privilege to lead two iconic brands, both number one in their respective categories. I am also grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such talented and passionate executives, team members and franchisees. I am confident in the strong roadmap that has been set forth, and will continue to cheer for the company's success.”

DineEquity also released preliminary, unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2016.

Net income for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 was $24,507 million, or $1.37 per diluted share, compared with 29,456 million, or $1.59 per diluted share reported in the fourth quarter of 2015.

“DineEquity will continue to invest in the long term success and growth of both IHOP and Applebee’s,” Dahl said in a statement. “I will be working very closely with the Applebee’s franchisees to improve performance.

“While a turnaround of Applebee’s will not happen immediately, the results of a comprehensive diagnostic conducted by a world class management consulting firm has enhanced our understanding of what has driven our recent sales trends,” Dahl said. “More importantly, we have a go forward plan to improve performance, and have worked with the same firm to validate our initiatives and identify additional creative strategies to expeditiously return Applebee's to growth.”

The company intends to report definitive fourth quarter 2016 and fiscal 2016 results and its outlook on March 1.