Updated from Oct. 28

THQ ( THQI) narrowed its loss in its second quarter on a 48% jump in sales, easily topping analysts' estimates.

But the company on Thursday offered a somewhat mixed outlook for coming periods. Although its third-quarter guidance was essentially in line with the Street's expectations, its full-year forecast implies worse-than-expected results in the company's fourth quarter.

Playing into the company's guidance was THQ's decision to delay the release of two upcoming titles.

Investors, though, seemed to focus on the recent past rather than on the murky future. Heading into Friday's close, the company's stock was up $3.31, or nearly 17%, to $23.08.

In the quarter ended Sept. 30, the video game-software publisher lost $1.4 million, or 2 cents a share, on $142.7 million in sales. In the same period last year, THQ lost $6.4 million, or 11 cents a share, on sales of $96.3 million.

Analysts were expecting the company to lose 6 cents a share on $127 million in sales in the just-completed quarter, according to Thomson First Call. The company forecast in August a loss of 10 cents a share on about $125 million in sales for the period.

Looking forward, THQ predicted that a profit of 65 cents a share on $320 million in sales in the third quarter. Although that's would be a substantial reduction from last year, it is about what analysts were expecting.

Wall Street had predicted a profit of 65 cents a share for the holiday quarter on $322.9 million in sales. Last year, the company earned $62.9 million, or about $1.05 per split-adjusted share, on $400.3 million in sales in the fourth quarter, which was boosted by its game based on The Incredibles, the hit Pixar ( PIXR) movie.

But the company cautioned that its fourth quarter could fall shy of the Street's estimates.

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