Vinny Smith is returning to the chief executive’s job at Quest Software Inc., the Aliso Viejo-based company announced minutes before releasing its fourth-quarter earnings today.

Smith served in that role from 1997 to 2008, when he became executive chairman, a post he’ll continue to fill. He shifts back to the chief executive’s post to replace Doug Garn, who was promoted from president to chief executive in 2008.

Garn is stepping down for health reasons, according to the company, and will assume the title of vice chairman.

The executive changes are effective today.

Quest makes software that manages and improves on other business products from Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp. in Redwood Shores, New York-based IBM Corp. and others.

The company is Orange County’s third-biggest software maker by revenue.

Under Smith’s leadership Quest became a market leader in database development and optimization, with more than two million users, and a major presence in Microsoft’s infrastructure management market.

Smith’s achievements also included developing simplified applications for cloud computing and virtualization.

Quest on Tuesday reported mixed results on revenue and adjusted profits for the fourth quarter.

The company posted revenue of $245.9 million, up 13.4% from a year earlier.

Analysts on average had forecast revenue of $243.7 million.

Adjusted profits topped $42.6 million, down about 5% from a year ago.

Wall Street was expecting adjusted profits of $43.2 million.

The company provided a revenue outlook for the year in the range of $930 million to $943 million.

Analysts on average are expecting sales of nearly $928 million this year.

The company has not give a full-year outlook on profits.

Quest shares were down more than 2.5% in afterhours New York trading to a market value of about $1.8 billion.