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THQ Swings to a Big Loss

SAN FRANCISCO - Video-games publisher THQ (THQI) posted wider-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter and offered weak outlook for the current quarter following what the company called a light product release schedule.

Net loss for the quarter was $34.5 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with net income of $6.5 million, or 9 cents a share the year before as a result of higher operating expenses related to marketing of Stuntman: Ignition and Juiced 2, both of which failed to catch on with consumers, and accelerated software amortization charges.

Excluding items, the company reported fourth quarter net loss of $24.8 million, or 37 cents a share, compared with net income of $10.1 million, or 15 cents a share a year ago.

Net sales for the quarter were $187 million, up from $172.1 million a year ago. The company reported revenue of $217.6 million, excluding the impact of deferred revenue from its game Frontlines: Fuel of War on both Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Windows PC platforms.

Analysts were expecting a loss of 6 cents a share on revenue of $200.62 million.

THQ shipped 6 million units of its game WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 during fiscal 2008 and more than 1.5 million units of its off-road racing game, MX vs. ATV Untamed, the company said.

Shares of THQ fell $1.85, or 9.1%, to $18.50 in extended trading.

For the current quarter, THQ said it expects net sales in the range of approximately $115 million to $125 million and a net loss per share in the range of approximately 38 cents to 42 cents a share. The anticipated loss reflects a light product release schedule and the timing of expenses, said THQ.

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