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.
Analysts are expecting revenue of $122.52 million and a loss of 18 cents a share. For the current fiscal, THQ guided revenue in the range of approximately $1.17 billion to $1.2 billion and earnings in the range of 95 cents to $1.05 a share. Analysts are expecting revenue of $1.19 billion and earnings of $1.18 a share. Separately, THQ said it has signed a licensing agreement with DreamWorks Animation ( DWA) to develop and publish video games based on the studio's upcoming animated feature film, with the working title Master Mind. The film is due in theaters on Nov. 5, 2010. THQ's weak earnings comes on the heels of the poor results posted by game publisher Midway ( MWY) Monday. Activision ( ATVI), maker of the hit Guitar Hero franchise will report its results Thursday, while industry leader Electronic Arts ( ERTS) will post its fourth-quarter earnings next week.