A strong showing this holiday season led video-game publisher THQ ( THQI) to bump up its sales and earnings forecast for the third fiscal quarter and full year 2007, but a delay in the release of a PlayStation 3 game title dampened its outlook for the fourth quarter. The Agoura Hills, Calif.-based company said it expects revenue of $475 million for the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31 and earnings of roughly 97 cents a share, excluding stock-based compensation charges. Previously, THQ forecast sales of $400 million to $425 million and EPS in the range of 69 cents to 74 cents. On the same basis, analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting sales of $425 million and earnings of 74 cents. Robust sales of mass market game franchises such as WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007, Disney/Pixar Cars, and Avatar: The Last Airbender across current and next-generation hardware systems drove sales in the third quarter, said CEO Brian Farrell. The strong third-quarter showing has, however, been offset by a delay in the release of a game title for Sony's ( SNE) PS3 system. THQ said the game will now be released in the first quarter of fiscal 2008, instead of the fourth quarter, but the company did not reveal the name of the title. Excluding items, the company expects revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter of approximately $146 million, consistent with previous guidance. But the company now estimates EPS of 14 cents.
Analysts had been expecting sales of $166.9 million and 18 cents a share. For the fiscal year under way, excluding a stock-based compensation charge, THQ raised its earnings outlook to $1.20 a share from 95 cents to $1.05 on sales of about $1 billion. The company previously forecast revenue of $925 million to $975 million. Consensus was for earnings of $1.02 a share on revenue of $968.2 million on that basis. Shares of THQ were down 6 cents to $33.34 in afternoon trading. THQ expects to report its fiscal third-quarter results before market open on Feb. 2.