THQ Swings to a Big Loss

The video game publisher posts a wider-than-expected loss and a weak outlook
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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) - Get Report

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) - Get Report

, 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.