THQ profit up on sales of 'Cars,' 'SpongeBob'

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SAN FRANCISCO - Video game publisher THQ Inc. posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit Friday due to strong sales of titles like "WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007," "Cars," and "SpongeBob SquarePants."

THQ, which is known for selling mass-market titles such as professional wrestling and Nickelodeon-inspired games, said its net profit for the third quarter ended Dec. 31 rose 32% to $62.1 million, or 91 cents per share, from $46.9 million, or 71 cents, in the year-ago December quarter.

Excluding stock option expenses, the company earned $1.00 per share, topping the average estimate of analysts polled by Reuters Estimates, which was 97 cents per share.

Net sales rose to $475.7 million from $357.8 million a year ago.

THQ, based in Agoura Hills, California, backed its fourth-quarter outlook for sales of about $146 million and earnings per share before items of 14 cents.

For the fiscal year ending in March, THQ said it expects earnings excluding items of $1.23 per share on sales of about $1 billion.

The Wall Street view was for per share earnings before items of 14 cents on revenue of $148 million for the fourth quarter and per share earnings of $1.21 on revenue of $1.00  billion for the full fiscal year.

For fiscal 2008, THQ forecast earnings before items of $1.34 to $1.44 per share on sales expected to range from $1.12 billion to $1.15 billion.

For fiscal 2008, analysts pegged earnings per share of  $1.30 and revenue of $1.11 billion.

THQ shares were up 43 cents, or more than 1% at $30.82, in early afternoon trade on Nasdaq.
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