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Atari coasts on ‘Matrix’ success

Net loss was $28.7 mil but stock option brightens outlook

No. 2 vidgame developer Atari took it easy in the third quarter, coasting on the continued success of its “Enter the Matrix” title as it prepares for the competitive holiday season.

New York-based subsid of French firm Infogrames released few new titles in the quarter, the second on its fiscal calendar. That resulted in a 45% drop in net revenue from the year-earlier period to $60.6 million. Net loss was $28.7 million, down from a slight profit last year.

Atari’s cash position is significantly stronger, however, thanks to a stock offering in September that eliminated its long-term debt and raised $35 million in new funds. Including a $39.4 million noncash dividend issued as part of the recapitalization, Atari’s total net loss was $68.1 million, or 90¢ per share.

Despite the slowdown, Atari maintained its spot as the second biggest independent vidgame publisher, relying on continued strong sales of its “Matrix” title, which sold more than 3 million copies when it launched in the second quarter, and games based on such popular franchises as “Dungeons and Dragons” and “Dragon Ball Z.”

Games slated for release in the current quarter include adaptations of “Terminator 3” and “Mission: Impossible” as well as new “Dragon Ball Z” and “Magic: The Gathering” offerings.

Company expects net revenue of $215 million-$235 million and net income of $28 million-$36 million, or between 23¢ and 30¢ per share.

Earnings were reported after markets closed Monday, but Atari shares were up 11¢ at $3.97 for the day.

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