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Blockbuster posts loss but sees rise in revs

Homevid retailer takes heavy charges for inventory management

HOLLYWOOD — Blockbuster Entertainment posted a broadened third-quarter loss of $224.9 million on Tuesday as the homevid retailer took heavy charges for inventory management.

The Dallas-based company, 82%-owned by Viacom, reported $19.3 million in red ink in the same period last year. Since then, Blockbuster has announced a campaign to eliminate about one-quarter of its VHS inventory as the chain boosts its emphasis on DVD.

Revenue rose 6% to $1.26 billion in the latest quarter.

Execs said in an earnings conference call with press and analysts that Blockbuster may end additional revenue-sharing pacts with Hollywood studios. Company already has terminated an agreement with Disney, though it separately struck new revenue-sharing pacts for DVD titles with MGM and another unnamed movie studio.

Blockbuster said it would take inventory-management charges of $356 million in the third quarter and $50 million in the fourth quarter. Excluding such charges, the company saw $43.4 million in profit during the latest quarter.

The results outpaced analyst forecasts, and Blockbuster shares climbed 40¢ to $24.90.

“Blockbuster continued to generate solid operating results, and we took decisive steps including the acceleration of our DVD initiative (to) capitalize on new growth opportunities,” chairman-CEO John Antioco said. “For the balance of 2001 and into next year, we will continue to focus on top-line growth and increasing our gross margin, while leveraging our infrastructure to maximize profits.”

(Bloomberg News contributed to this report.)

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