THQ sales a whale tale

'Nemo' floats vidgamer's revenues

HOLLYWOOD — No. 2 vidgame publisher THQ reported 37% growth in net sales for its fiscal year ended March 31, due in large part to tremendous sales for its “Finding Nemo” game.

The Disney/Pixar licensee has sold over 5 million units since its release a year ago. Also selling extremely well, with over 3 million units, were titles based on Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants” and WWE.

Company’s net sales in fiscal 2004 were $641 million, while net income was $35.8 million, up 77% from a year ago excluding a one-time charge in fiscal 2003.

For the most recent quarter, net sales were up 84% to $123 million, while net income was $5.4 million, compared to a $7.7 million loss a year ago. Growth was even higher than the company predicted when it raised revenue guidance in March to $110 million.

In addition to continued strong performance for the THQ’s licensed titles, new release “MX Unleashed” performed well over the winter.

Along with the better-than-expected earnings, THQ increased its guidance for fiscal 2005. Publisher now expects net sales of $680 million, up slightly from the past year, and diluted net earnings per share of $1.05-$1.10, up at least 14% from fiscal 2003’s 92¢.

Company is banking primarily on new licensed titles in the upcoming year, including “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” “The Polar Express” and “The Incredibles,” the latest result of its multiyear deal with Pixar.

After staying virtually flat Wednesday before earnings were released, THQ stock was up over 10% in after-hours trading at over $20.